South Florida Blade
December 18, 2008
For those of us who prefer our holiday cheer served in dark comedic fashion, "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues" is the play to see. The classic concept of Christmas is completely corrupted as eight of the flying reindeer tell us what really happens in Santa's workshop.
In "The Eight," written by Los Angeles-based playwrignt Jeff Goode, Vixen has accused Santa of raping her-such a festive visual for the holidays-and the rest of the reindeer take to the stage and individually tell their sides of the story (mostly through monologues, as the title suggests). In the process we learn about their aspirations, fears, and hilariously diverse character traits. We soon find out that the North Pole is not the jolly place we've seen in movies and that Santa is actually an evil dictator who preys not only on his reindeer, but on small children as well. According to Blitzen, "...a jolly fat pervert is comin' to town," and she praises Vixen for being the first to stand up to Santa and considers this "the turning point in his legacy of perversion."
Sol Theatre's production features hilarious performances from the ensemble cast, as they lay bare the scandalous backstories of each reindeer on Santa's team. Julia Clearwood shows amazing range as she takes on the role Blitzen, and also the roles of Donner and Dancer. Donner is the chain-smoking, alcoholic mother of Rudolph; Dancer is a "dancer" at heart, who took the job with Santa because it pays well, but she laments because she is not living her dream. Even though she is one of the eight most powerful reindeer in the world, she is dissatisfied with her life and it is apparent that Santa has made unwanted advances at her as well. And so it goes.
Jim Gibbons delivers an excellent performance in his renditions of both Dasher and Comet. Dasher is the quintessential over-achiever who devotes his life to work. Comet is a male-chauvinist neoconservative who freely espouses his views on "family values." In his younger days, Comet fell in with a bad crowd-Hell's Herd-and fell prey to drinking, snorting cocaine, eating marijuana and then eventually smoking it. Luckily Saint Nick had a history of helping troubled deer and stepped in to ultimately save Comet's life.
The most hilarious character of the evening is the utterly flamboyant Cupid played by Angel Perez. He shares a little secret with the audience, "Don't tell Kris Kringle this, but I am not the only gay reindeer...but I am the only openly gay reindeer. And I LOVE it. Hollywood said fame would go to my head, but trust me, it goes other places." Perez also plays Hollywood (the reindeer formerly known as Prancer), who has starred in his own movie and hates Rudolph. Perez brings both characters to life and his performance is a must-see.
Comet is fiercely loyal to Kris Kringle and passes judgment on all the other reindeer by making remarks such as, "who is it that's really pushing these perverted accusations? The perverts. Vixen, Blitzen and Cupid. The two lesbians and the fag."
Without giving away the show, the end has a little (some might say "big") twist. Sol Theatre is a small theater with a lot of heart-"The Eight" is a perfect escape from the over-commercialized holiday season and promises to bring laughs to even the most cynical of viewers. Time is running out to see this crazy ensemble, as "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues" can only be seen through December 21.