Stage Scene LA
December 22, 2018



A salacious Santa's unspeakable indiscretions aren't nearly so laughable in a #metoo era as they were when Jeff Goode premiered The Eight: Reindeer Monologues twenty-five Christmases ago, just one reason his quarter-century old collection of R-rated solo confessions proves even more powerful and relevant than when it debuted in 1994, a dark comedy gone darker than ever as its ingeniously staged, splendidly performed Crown City Theatre Company debut makes abundantly clear.

Goode's octet of monologs have Santa's reindeer weighing in one by one on a sex scandal that's been rocking the North Pole, namely whether Jolly Old St. Nick (aka "that fat fuck") did indeed sexually molest Reindeer Number 8 (aka Vixen), or is it simply that the curviest of The Eight is out for her fifteen minutes of fame?

First up is Dasher (Neil Unger looking appropriately lumberjacky in plaid shirt and jeans), none too happy about that "foggy Christmas Eve" when Santa asked Rudolph The Fucking Red-Nosed Reindeer to drive the sleigh.

Cupid (Michael Mullen redefining gay fabulosity) calls Santa "a holly, jolly sex crime waiting to happen" while expressing mixed feelings about being the only reindeer Mr. Claus has not molested.

Hollywood (Michael Marchak standing in for Ryan Gosling), renamed after starring in the Sam Elliott-Cloris Leachman flick Prancer, is pissed as hell these days to see "that bitch Vixen" stealing his thunder with her sexual harassment claims.

Blitzen (Kimberly Patterson in die-hard feminist mode) has her own axes to grind, and not just about the "jolly fat pervert" whose sleigh she helps pull but also about male chauvinist deer who make her feel like a piece of meat.

Comet (Eric Keitel in wife-beater, hoodie, and backwards baseball cap) thinks Rudolph should just shut up and be grateful that Santa turned "a poor, deformed, retarded reindeer buck" into an actual somebody.

Dancer (a prim-and-proper Valerie Lynn Brett) is not at all pleased about the possibility of finding herself unemployed simply because she heard screams coming from Santa's workshop.

Donner (Jeff Witzke in hot-bearded-daddy mode) declares himself firmly on the side of the fat man in red for letting the eldest reindeer's "facially deformed" son lead the sleigh that foggy Christmas Eve.

Finally, self-declared "slut" Vixen (Megan Cochrane looking sultry in a clingy black minidress and stilettos) expresses her inability to fathom why the media won't just leave "the most famous victim of all" alone.

Fresh new references to hashtags, fake news, and the gay hookup app "Greindeer" bring The Eight: Reindeer Monologues up to date for 2018, but it's recent events that make Goode's dramedic monologs more relevant than ever, an all-around terrific cast delivering the goods under Bill Reilly's imaginative direction. (Transforming the English-guesthouse set of the concurrently running The Mousetrap into Santa's "Reindeer Lounge" is a nifty touch as is having assorted reindeer hanging around doing their own things on stage during early monologs.)

Stage manager Zad Potter scores design points for his lighting as do Michael Mullen for his clever costume choices and Joe Shea for his seasonal sound design.

Jeff Goode could hardly have imagined twenty-five years back that this year's hottest-button play would be his quarter-century-old The Eight: Reindeer Monologues. Check it out at Crown City Theatre and see for yourself why.

Crown City Theater, 11031 Camarillo St., North Hollywood.

--Steven Stanley
December 22, 2018