Windy City Times - December 12, 2007Theater: 7 Santas
Quick! Someone post Michelle Renee Thompson's performance in Bailiwick Repertory's 7 Santas on YouTube right away. Thompson is drop-dead funny depicting an angry and paranoid Santa as a bling-loaded rap superstar drunk on his own celebrity.
7 Santas is a sequel of sorts by Jeff Goode who is best known for the dysfunctional holiday comedy The Eight: Reindeer Monologues.
Goode frames the show as an 12-step group therapy meeting where Mrs. Claus ( Deborah Smith ) sternly presides over Santa ( or at least the 7 different versions and aspects of this mythical figure ) . Act I is largely comic monologues of each Santa explaining his beefs and excitements. Act II takes a serious turn as a nasty domestic squabble between Mrs. Claus and each of the Santas erupts with sneering recriminations about the past and the death of a young girl.
So in addition to Thompson as superstar Santa BigS, we have Linda Rudy as Saint Nick ( in traditional flowing green robes ) , Matt Rudy as splendiferous inventor Santa NiQ, Jason Goedken as unfeeling capitalist Santa Klaus, Ted Jonas as surly recovering drunk Santa Red, Sara Kay Snider as working J.O.E. Santa and Benjamin Haile as a creepy child-loving Santa Kringle ( note his one white glove and you'll get what is being hinted at ) .
Goode certainly brings some insight into the changing image and definition of Santa Claus which is fun and sometimes disturbingly thought-provoking ( yeah, why exactly does Santa always want kids on his lap? ) .
Goedken's calculating Klaus is good, while the excitable Rudy as NiQu and Haile inject some fun and disturbing energy into the proceedings. Smith's Mrs. Claus spars particularly well with Jonas' angry Red.
But no one can top Thompson's BigS, who gets the biggest laughs and is the high point of the show.
Playwright: Jeff Goode. At: Bailiwick Repertory, 1229 W. Belmont. Phone: 773-883-1090; $25. Runs through: Dec. 30