December 7, 2009
Just ask the folks at BCKSEET Productions, offering the humbuggiest play of all, The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, and let the bucks and the does tell you all about Santa, the old fat guy who's got a thing for reindeer, not to mention children and elves.
This funny, definitely-not-for-children Christmas show, by Jeff Goode, introduces us to the Elite Eight, the flying top guns of reindeer land, who find themselves in the middle of a contentious, litigious scandal involving accusations that Santa raped Vixen. Can Christmas be saved?
The audience sits at tables, cabaret-style, and watches the tiny stage, which is filled with well-dressed reindeer playing with a bunch of toys. Suddenly, the lights come up and they freeze: deer in the spotlights.
Dasher (T.J. Sokso) is the alpha male, all military muscle and "hua." He was bumped only once as leader of the pack ("Fog, my ass"). We'll hear the sad story of Rudolph later on, when his guilt-ridden father, Donner (Mark Cairns), reveals the shocking truth of that foggy night when Santa came to say . . .
Cupid (Josh Hitchens) is a very swish reindeer whose sexual development was distorted by the alcoholic Mrs. Claus' coming on to him before puberty.
Prancer (Kevin Meehan), also known as Hollywood, wears dark glasses and hates the movie ("we all look the same") and maintains that it's racism that has kept any deer from ever winning an Oscar (consider Bambi!).
Blitzen (Rebecca Miglionico) is the ranting feminist, about to declare a strike on Christmas Eve, while Vixen (Samantha Clarke) goes to trial to reveal the truth about the rape (what hockey team?).
Comet (the excellent Delante Keys), in a suit and tie, testifies, revival-meeting-style, about how, as a young buck, he fell in with a bad crowd and Santa saved him. St. Nick, he points out, is not one of those "glamour saints" like Patrick or Joan.
Dancer (Melinda Miller in a knockout performance) provides a great riff on zoos and her past as a ballerina - deer are no longer permitted "to ballet," and "intricate tail work is just gone from the repertoire." Her unnerving laughter is the highlight of the evening.
Peggy Walsh's costumes are clever, especially the cloven mittens. Under Kate Brennan's direction, The Eight: Reindeer Monologues is not quite as hilarious as it might be, but surprisingly substantial as social satire.