Tuesday, November 9, 2010
The Eight: Reindeer Monologues - Review
by Stephen Moore
Leave the kids at home if you want to find out the hilarious and disturbing truths about Christmas, showing at the Above The Stag Theatre, Bressenden Place, SW1.
Billed as a rip-roaring Chrimbo comedy, Jeff Goode's confessional-style expose of the reindeer world's finest uncovers a raft of tales that would blow any kiddie's mind.
Dasher, Prancer and Co. each reveal the skeletons in their cupboard as the rest sit behind, talk-show style.
In a decidedly sideways look at Christmas from the reindeer's point of view, jokes rain like snowflakes from the boisterous characters as we discover the origins of the elves (saved from lives as towel boys in an Irish brothel), thoughts on "scene-stealing" kids in Hollywood Christmas movies, and the real persona behind that red and white uniform.
But as the show unravels into the second half, the jokes and froth give way under the subject matters' considerable weight.
Used as a mirror on humanity's own underbelly, the reindeer spill forth a year's worth of soap opera secrets in quick succession: broken families, alcoholism, sexual violence, intimidation, warped competition for affection, and a surprisingly touching reflection on parenting a son with special needs.
Nevertheless, an accomplished ensemble cast walk the line between farce and fearfulness, tickling the funny bone while prodding our social conscience with those mighty large antlers.
A compelling, thought-provoking Christmas night out.