EDGE Philadelphia
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues
by Jim Rutter
EDGE Philadelphia Contributor
Tuesday Dec 18, 2007

Something horrible has happened to the Reindeer at the North Pole. Rudolph’s babbling about mistletoe in a padded little stall after his relapse, Vixen’s being held in a downtown lockup awaiting questioning, Donner’s implicated in the cover-up, and Blitzen’s organizing a walk-out strike that threatens to put a stop to Christmas once and for all.

Welcome to the wacky world of Jeff Goode’s The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, where on the 364 days that aren’t Christmas, the reindeer and elves live in a sexually perverted hell ruled over by Mrs. Claus, who wore gold body paint and an elf strapped to her crotch at the annual party (unfortunately and fortunately, we just hear about this), and Santa - a holly, jolly sex crime waiting to happen - for whom the Rape of Vixen will mark a turning point in his legacy.

Exploiting every twisted lyric of the holidays, Goode’s play has the reindeer refer to Santa as "A jolly fat pervert is coming to town, a grotesque libidinous troll of a man who knows when you are sleeping." Each Reindeer delivers a ten-minute tale, driving the plot forward with their piece of the puzzle that eventually reveals the mystery of what exactly happened to Rudolph, what Santa had to do with it, and why some of the reindeer remain loyal to the "great benefactor" we call St. Nick.

It’s so rude, insensitive, and inappropriate that I laughed at every line, even when I didn’t want to.

It’s so rude, insensitive, and inappropriate that I laughed at every line, even when I didn’t want to.
Wearing gender-appropriate doe-ears or antlers, every one of these actors delivers a sensational send-up of their parts, as they perform Goode’s well-crafted monologues that tell a different facet of reindeer life on the North Pole. Noah Mazaika’s Prancer becomes a blonde-Tom Cruise (replete with aviator glasses) clone-leaping onto a box in his own Oprah moment, Nicole Venson’s Vixen and Adrienne Matiland’s Blitzen both deliver stirring portrayals as the pair of "wenches who stole Xmas," and Oscar Dubon’s intones a hysterical, yet menacingly-accented gang-banger with antlers as Comet.

Kate Brennan proves that the play’s not all sex and rudeness, as she manages to turn Dancer’s monologue from a ditzy out-of-work performer’s mindless journey into something poignant, while Mark Cairns offers one of the more disgustingly revelatory moments of the play as Donner, the Kevin Federline of Reindeer.

But getting some of the best material, and stealing the show with his high-voiced uber-fey rendition is Dan Rich’s cupid, the only openly-gay reindeer (there are others, he tells us), who works the other nights of the year as a gold-hot pants wearing stage dancer and details in great length the perverted sex life of the Claus family.

G. DeCandia’s superb direction enhances every facet of their performance. These actors might be performing monologues, but the intense physicality of the staging never has them stay in one place very long, most markedly seen in TJ Sokso’s opening monologue that sets a high mark for the rest of the evening to follow. And the entire show makes great use of Jacob Walton’s set-the kind of Xmas winter wonderland every kid would see at the mall making an even more bizarre contrast for the material--and even finds a way to incorporate the column that would otherwise block the view of many in the audience (and which has blocked the views during some of BCKSEET’s other shows).

It’s smart, irreverent, and quite possibly the only show you’ll get to see this season that lacks the saccharine infused commercialism of the holidays. Need an extra reason to go? Not only is the Red Room one of the few theatres in town with it’s own bar, but each night opens with a different improv act (representing either long or short form), that only adds to the charm of Goode’s holiday shocker.

BCKSEET Productions presents The Eight: Reindeer Monologues at the Red Room of the Society Hill Playhouse, 537 S. 8th St. Philadelphia. Tickets are going fast, but still available at the box office, by calling 215-923-0210, or online at BCKSEET Productions’ website.

I’m a former university philosophy lecturer, trained in economics and philosophy. Now I devote most of my free time to pursuing my interests in theater and opera, writing plays and criticism; while still researching and writing in the field of political economy. Currently, and for the past five years, I have competed in the sport of Olympic weightlifting. I live in Center City Philadelphia, where I take in every production or performance that my schedule allows.

I do have a website: http://jimruttersreviews.blogspot.com