November 26, 2004
DOE: Vixen (Heather Howe) reveals the details of her rape
by Santa Claus in the closing scene of “The Eight: Reindeer
Monologues” and the Chance Theater in Anaheim.
EIGHT: REINDEER MONOLOGUES'
The Chance Theater, 5552 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim
Through Dec. 19. 4 p.m. Saturdays, 6 p.m. Sundays
1 hour, 25 minutes (no intermission)
Unsuitable for children (adult content and language)
$20 ($17 students and seniors)
(714) 777-3033 or www.chancetheater.com
Review: An irreverent, adult tone regarding Santa
and his antlered team.
Special To The Register
the climate of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, apply it to Santa Claus
at the North Pole, and what have you got? "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues,"
Jeff Goode's contemporary, comedic-dramatic spin on Santa's famous
team of eight reindeer. One of them, Vixen, is about to press sexual-harassment
charges against jolly old St. Nick, and the he-said, she-said scenario
has everyone running for cover.
1994 play, Goode's ingenious revisionism of the Santa Claus-reindeer
myth, delivers the withering irreverence of only the most well-honed
satire. In a new staging at its Anaheim Hills venue, the Chance
Theater gives the spiky, R-rated play a distinctive workout.
behind the curtain of myth, Goode finds alcoholism and drug abuse,
homosexuality and bisexuality, debauchery and lechery. Among the
eight are narcissists, prima donnas, homebodies, sex kittens and
bad boys with titillating tales surrounding the beloved Santa. Peppered
with salty language, "The Eight" skirts the line between too-cautious
and bad taste, between stale and heavy- handed.
serves up eight successive solo scenes, well-embellished by director
Josh Costello and his cast. We get a swaggering Dasher (Casey Long),
"first reindeer from Day One," still sulking over the night Rudolph
led the team; a lisping, limp-wristed, giggly Cupid (Dimas Diaz);
a self-promoting Prancer (Michael Irish), nicknamed "Hollywood"
by his peers for his shameless pursuit of a movie caree;, and a
militant Blitzen (Alex Bueno), determined to avenge the wrongs inflicted
upon herself, Vixen and every doe at the North Pole.
Comet (Carter Mason) is a reformed hell-raiser who defends Santa's
reputation. Passing her time baking cookies, sweet young doe Dancer
(Sarah Moreau) was once nearly molested by Santa but is afraid to
speak out. An aging, disillusioned Donner (Richard Comeau) brings
us up to speed on the truth behind the legend surrounding his son
Rudolph. Finally, wronged doe Vixen (Heather Howe), at the center
of the hubbub, delivers her side of the story, a rape that began
when Santa cornered her alone in the toy shop one day.
each monologue brings us one step closer to understanding what really
happened that day. You'd expect the topic of sexual harassment in
the workplace to be dealt with in a drama; the genius of "The Eight"
is that it faces the subject head-on even while satirizing it.
and company lend the proper tongue-in-cheek irreverence and a wickedly
knowing comedic tone, well-balanced by occasional bursts of intense
solemnity. Emily Sanford equips each of the eight with outsized
reindeer ears, a black-tipped nose and slightly rouged cheeks. The
male actors sport horns, while several deer - bucks Dasher, Cupid
and Prancer and doe Blitzen - don too-cool shades.
sharp is Goode's writing that even the less-pointed scenes are effective.
Sporting a cowboy hat, Long's Dasher spoofs the obsession with unsafe
working conditions, his speech a catalog of his solid work ethic
and of the occupational hazards - fog, cold, sharp rooftops - of
being a reindeer. Bueno's sneering Blitzen scorns the "jolly fat
pervert" Santa, whom she labels a "libidinous troll," and exposes
the corporate mentality behind St.Nick's racket. Mason lends Comet
the general appearance of Nathan Lane and the personality of a former
wastrel who blasts journalists, lawyers and "perverts" such as Cupid,
Blitzen and Vixen for Santa's woes.
overtly comedic is Diaz, whose sarcastic tone and mock-oily manner
as Cupid, "the only openly gay reindeer," weld the concept of sexual
profligacy to the snowy-pure image of the Santa myth.
portrays Prancer as a cynical, me-oriented jerk who delivers his
monologue during a yoga session, wearing only bikini briefs. Prancer
decimates the beloved annual Rudolph TV special as "a Claymation
piece of crap" and rips Hollywood execs - a diatribe Irish injects
with a biting tone and unmistakable bitterness.
clueless-ingenue persona for Dancer is not only endearing; it's
a welcome respite from the other reindeers' harangues. Her solo
may be less focused than the others', but it lends the perspective
of a naïve spirit straining to cope with the ugliness around her.
a grumpy, morose, old smoker with a bad back, a figure we laugh
at, yet pity. Rudolph is a simpleton disfigured at birth - but,
Donner tells us, "your dreams for your children are what keep you
going." In a short span, Comeau displays Donner's fragile ego, fierce
pride, disillusionment and cynicism.
the crowning scene, Howe at first comes off as a wine-sipping sex
kitten in red silk jammies - but the actor's dry sarcasm and ironic
tone give comedic kick to Vixen's words. Howe delivers Vixen's fury
in full force: Her privacy invaded, her virtue questioned, the doe
is left only with her dignity. The monologue, a hoof-kick to our
gut, is the strong, final punctuation to an evening of rapid-fire
bursts of laughter and intensity.
Freelance writer Eric Marchese has covered entertainment for the Register