Vermont Times - December 15, 2004

by Di Carrier, Vermont Times

BURLINGTON -- Contois Auditorium was the setting for Theatre on a Shoestring's production of "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues." They presented the show in 2001 -- and the importance of the work as an educational piece on the issues of sexual harassment and rape has not been mitigated by the passage of time. It's strictly an adult presentation, and the humor is absolutely welcome after some hard-to-digest, painful thoughts have been spoken.

Physical staging is very simple: a single stool with an interrogation light above it. There has been an attack and the reindeer are being interviewed. Costumes were simple, all including antlers.

The first monologue was delivered by Kevin Bosley as Dasher. He was all military -- combat fatigues, sunglasses, and an officer's whip. He made the point that Rudolph only worked one year and that was the only year in which he -- Dasher -- personally had missed being part of the team. Bosley did a great job and I was a little afraid to laugh even at the obviously humorous lines. When he existed, the audience wasn't sure whether to clap or not -- would they get into trouble if they did? Bosley also played Comet.
Jonathan Whitton played Cupid, the gay reindeer, and he was well past the "don't-ask, don't-tell" advise...descriptions of a sexual matter leave much to the imagination. Ryan Morin's Prancer was all sunglasses and casual California shirts. His purpose was to change the image in the movies -- you know, go from Bambi to combat fighter.

Deborah Renshaw as Blitzen talked about being a female reindeer on this team. Dancer, played by Raquel Aronhime, really wanted to be a dancer (once upon a time reindeer were great dancers until it was illegal for them to dance).

Donner (Bob Carmody) was wonderful as Rudolph's father, forced to live with what he had done to Rudolph. Yes, he knew what was going on, but he kept silent. After all, it was Santa Claus and who ever said anything bad about Santa Claus?

The last reindeer of all was Vixen (Melissa Wyman), the victim. She dropped all charges because who would believe her? How would she ever find work again? She moved to Florida.

The issues talked about in "Reindeer" are the issues we don't like to talk about. No one wants to imagine that a saintly character is a perpetual alcoholic, sex fiend, and rapist. How many of us are strong enough to stand up and tell the truth even if it means losing our credibility, our jobs, and our livelihood? This made me very uncomfortable at times, but that's what theater is supposed to do. If the humor softened the blows, so be it.

I look forward to future productions from this group. Keep up the good work.