Tucson, Arizona  Sunday, 10 December 2000

'Reindeer' play is both hilarious, disturbing


Green Thursday Theatre Project's talking reindeer include Blitzen (Adrienne Perry), left, Vixen (Traci Hartley) and Cupid (L. Jay Meyer).

If you go

What: Green Thursday Theatre Project's production of Jeff Goode's "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues," directed by Samantha K. Wyer.
When: 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and Dec. 21-23.
Where: Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St.
Tickets: $10, with discounts available, at Hotel Congress' front desk or by calling 795-4322.
Et cetera: Offended by racy language and talk of sex? Then this isn't for you. Audiences must be 18 or over.
Over the course of the 90-minute, one-act play, we go from a very funny story about reindeers to a very dark one about rape.

By Kathleen Allen

You'd better watch out. This is one Santa Claus you don't want coming to your town.

Green Thursday Theatre Project's inaugural play, Jeff Goode's "The Eight: The Reindeer Monologues," is dark and disturbing and dirty.

And it can be uproariously funny, as well.

But it isn't for anyone who holds the jolly old elf in any kind of esteem. "The Eight" takes no pity on the fat guy.

The smooth production was directed by Samantha K. Wyer, Arizona Theatre Company's associate artistic director. She has a deftness for comedy, and has an eye for the small details that distinguish characters.

It was performed on the small stage at Club Congress - surely a first for that space. But it worked: It's an intimate space and has an earthy feel. This play needed to be staged at an earthy place.

The setup is this: There's a nasty rumor about Santa's extracurricular activities in the North Pole's toy shop. Apparently, he has a sexual appetite that would exhaust Bill Clinton, and a keen interest in bestiality and nonconsensual sex.

And he's been accused of some unseemly behavior with Vixen - behavior Vixen wanted no part of ("When a doe says no, she means no"). The press is starting to catch wind of this scandal, and Santa's elite reindeers - The Eight - decide to tell the story from their perspectives.

One by one, they take the stage, antlers swaying with their words, and give about a 10-minute monologue about what's true - and not true - from their vantage point.

Each deer is well-drawn and has definite personality traits, from the overblown Hollywood persona of Hollywood/Prancer, who's just looking for the right part, to the machismo of Dasher, the lead deer, to the militant feminism of Blitzen; to the complacent "Santa can do no wrong" Comet.

There were strong performances in this production, especially from Traci Hartley as Vixen, the deer accusing Santa of the nasty deeds. She is sexy and flirty and tough as antlers outside, and pained and vulnerable in.

L. Jay Meyer was funny and a little scary as a maniacal Cupid, the only openly gay reindeer. He was decked out in a sequin shirt and heels and smoking a cigarette hand-rolled in pink paper, and his observations of Santa, "a walking, talking, holly jolly sex crime," are delivered with over-the-top flair.

Terry J. Erbe's Donner, a burned-out reindeer in a dirty, sweaty undershirt that barely covered his beer belly, showed us the character's agony at the choices he had made in his life. And Adrienne Perry's Blitzen let the reindeer's anger about Santa's indiscretions blaze with humor and conviction.

The production - especially for a first one - was strong. Green Thursday has made an initial splash, thanks to Wyer's solid direction and a talented cast.

© Arizona Daily Star