Chicago Reader

Chicago Reader, Friday, December 9, 1994

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues (*Highly Recommended)
Jack Helbig
Plays with premises as clever as this - a furor erupts when Santa Claus is accused of sexual harassment by a couple of his reindeer - usually have trouble living up to their potential. That's because most playwrights are lazy. They think it's enough to announce their comic twist baldly and loudly early in the play and then to keep beating it until the play's over (and the audience is brain-dead). But Chicago-based playwright Jeff Goode is an exception to this rule. Throughout the eight witty monologues that make up this extended one-act he keeps the audience in suspense, tantalizing us with a hint here, a glimpse there of Saint Nick's nefarious activities, but never revealing the whole story until the play's almost over.

Goode also raises the tension by making all of the reindeer full, flawed characters whose views of the events are so subjective and limited that none of them has all the details. We have the macho Dasher (Phil Gigante) complaining about the fact that a reindeer complained, the feminist Blitzen (KellyAnn Corcoran) turning the event into an opportunity to advance her political agenda, and the self-absorbed Prancer, who's renamed himself Hollywood (Tom Gottlieb) more concerned with the failure of his movie on video than with the fate of one of the alleged victims, Rudolph. This is a rarity in the non-Equity world: a well-written play that's well acted too.

L.A. Times

Los Angeles Times, Thursday, December 8, 1994

A Warped View From 'X-Mas Files'
Don Shirley
Here's a Christmas comedy for the age of the daytime talk show: [The Eight: Reindeer Monologues], in which eight very articulate, anthropomorphized reindeer take the stage to discuss the terrible scandal that has so polarized opinions at the North Pole.

Children should not read this review, let alone see this show. Santa Claus has been more than naughty; he's accused of raping Vixen and molesting Rudolph.

Jeff Goode's series of monologues is tasteless, of course, but it's also wickedly funny for those who can drop their defenses. And most of it is acted with such conviction in Allison Gendreau's staging at Hudson BackStage that you might start to take it seriously - until you remember who we're talking about.

It helps that the reindeer are such a varied lot - as expressed in their costumes as well as their performances. It might help even more if the play were crowned with testimony from the Fat Boy (in Dasher's words) himself. Although Comet mounts a brief defense of Santa, generally this show will make you want to plug up your chimney on Christmas Eve.