Potomac Stages - December 29th, 2001

THE EIGHT: Reindeer Monologues

Eight fabulous performances of eight distinctive monologues add up to a bizarre but intriguing evening. Two years before Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues began a trend toward collections of first person accounts to match monologue titles, actor, director and playwright Jeff Goode came up with this strange concoction that gives each cast member a dozen minutes in the spotlight.

Storyline: Each of Santa's elite team of reindeer give their reactions to allegations of perversion and abuse on the part of their employer, the jolly old elf. This is distinctly adult material, not fit for a family holiday outing.

It is unfortunate that we were unable to review this production before the end of its short run in repertoire with the longer-running The Mystery of Edwin Drood. But we wanted to document the accomplishments of the Landless Theatre Company and this talented cast for the record.

Each of the monologues are stand-alone scenes which could be easily lifted out of the play and performed as a demonstration of performance skill, and there is plenty of performance skill being displayed by this cast. But each scene adds pieces to an overall story as bizarre and distasteful as it is in small details which give depth to the characterizations. This production has eight extremely strong performances with hardly a weak link in the chain. Each captures not only the humor of their peculiar persona but the pathos underlying their character's role in the cumulative story.

Jeff Obermiller is the only openly gay reindeer (Cupid "the God(ess) of love.") Andrew Lloyd Baughman, who also directs, is Comet, the good ol' boy with a past who is loyal to Santa for his work with troubled reindeer youth. D.C. Cathro's Dasher grumps about the one and only year he wasn't the lead of the team the year of the Rudolph scandal. Matt Bauman as Prancer complains of the damage Rudolph's movie did to his own film career while David Yackley's Donner unburdens himself of guilt over his choices as the father of his red-nosed son. Alice Anne English as Blitzen breaks the code of silence over the rape of Vixen who, in Robin Lang's final monologue gives her version of the story. Then there's Julie Kurzava's fine work as Dancer the self-absorbed former ballerina reindeer.