City Link - December 4, 2002

Reindeer games

Going against popular stereotype, Immagine Stage Company's North Pole team is more naughty than nice.

by Paul Gallotta

Yup, 'tis the season. And if you're among those theatergoers who feel that one more production of A Christmas Carol will cause you to start chucking coal, you're in luck: The Imagine Stage Company has put together the perfect alternative to all this forced holiday cheer.

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues is a gutsy play. But given Imagine's penchant for edgy work (Eric Bogosian's Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll, for example), the troupe's organizers probably couldn't care less if they turn people off with this production. This is a supremely talented company, which could easily have trotted out some schmaltzy seasonal work and succeeded. But that wouldn't be like Imagine at all.

Playwright Jeff Goode has penned a series of monologues guaranteed to make sensitive souls out there apopleptic. Any play that graphically depicts oral sex and refers to Santa as a "walking, talking, holly, jolly sex crime" and Rudolph as "deformed and retarded" isn't meant for a traditional Yuletide audience.

In The Eight, Vixen (Ivonne Azurdia) is a lesbian S&M fetishist who accuses Santa Claus of rape. Comet (Imagine co-founder Jerry Seeger) is St. Nick's apologist; he used to get coked up and dive-bomb cars until Santa saved him after a botched liquor-store robbery. Hollywood (Paul Tei), who's been rechristened after the success of the motion picture Prancer, wants to further his movie career, as long as he doesn't have to work with kids. Cupid (also Tei) is openly gay. Dasher (Joe Kimble) nurses a Budweiser while defending his status as "the No. 1 reindeer" with a terse, "I don't have to put up with this shit." Blitzen (Wendolynn Mateo)views Santa as "a grotesque, libidinous troll."

Each reindeer offers jaundiced testimony as to the hazards of working for Santa, from flying through ice storms to dealing with the boss' harpy of a wife. These creatures hate one another and take special delight in vivisecting Rudolph and the stop-motion animation special he spawned.

Thanks to Elena Maria Garcia's sturdy direction, The Eight flies by like a toboggan. Yet this vulgar and occasionally offensive play can also be quite hilarious. It is clearly not meant for everyone, but Scrooge would have been proud.

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues runs through Dec. 21 in the Hollywood Playhouse's Blue Box Theatre, 240 Washington St. Tickets cost $10. Call 954/327-9159. Contact Paul Gallotta at