December 15, 2009

Reindeer Revelations:

Guerilla Theatre presents 'The Eight: Reindeer Monologues'

By: MJ Pendleton

The Browncoat Theatre and Pub is a cozy, inviting place with the atmosphere of a neighborhood bar. The intimate atmosphere is the ideal venue for the monologue/confessional play genre, which drops the fourth wall and invites the audience into the story on the stage. Guerilla Theatre also does not shy away from shock appeal. "Reindeer Monologues" is a hilariously funny comedy, but it shares a commonality of presentation and perversity with the darkly disturbing drama "Bash: The Latter Day Plays" by Neil LaBute, which Guerilla produced in May.

Playwright Jeff Goode's plot exposes Santa as the sick, sadistic sex maniac he really is (maybe). Most of the reindeer decide that the world should know the true meaning of Christmas; the problem is, who will believe them?

Incited by Vixen, who claims that Santa raped her, each reindeer relates rumors, experiences, opinions and assumptions about the iconic St. Nick. Four actors play the eight reindeer; poor, deformed Rudolph does not make an appearance because he's currently in a catatonic stupor resulting from Santa's alleged abuse. Richard Davis is Dasher and Donder (Rudolph's father), Amber Davis is Hollywood (formerly known as Prancer) and Vixen, Susan Auten is Blitzen and Comet, and Tony Moore is Cupid and Dancer.

Most of the characters are hyperbolic stereotypes, which are funny despite their clichéd characteristics because these are reindeer we're talking about, for goodness sake! Keeping that in mind, all of the monologues are amusingly ridiculous except the last one, in which the violated Vixen resorts to obtuse sarcasm-generally considered the lowest form of wit.

Guerilla Theatre has always considered the play and the performers far more important than extraneous embellishments, so the stage set and costumes are simple. The set is a chair and a table (which Cupid/Moore utilizes provocatively); costumes consist of funny T-shirts (Nutcracker Sweet, Jingle Belles, Santa Saves, Jingle These, Santa Is My Wingman) with a few accessories and antlers on the males. In an effort to maintain verisimilitude (Ho, Ho, Ho), someone should enlighten the playwright that female reindeer have antlers, too. According to National Geographic, "A hard look at the evidence suggests that at least some of Santa's reindeer were females [the ones giving the directions, no doubt]... Reindeer, both wild and semi-domesticated, are the only members of the deer family in which both sexes grow antlers. The question is when do they shed them? 'The largest bulls shed their antlers first, almost immediately after the rutting season ends in late October,' said Pat Valkenburg, a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

"By the end of the rutting season, the bulls not only don't have antlers, they're so played out that the likelihood that they could haul the fat man and tons of toys around the world in one night is slim. Young bulls and cows can keep their antlers sometimes through April...(also) The Sami people of Lapland...frequently neuter their working reindeer, which would interrupt the cycle that causes males to shed their antlers. The evidence therefore leads to the conclusion that Santa's reindeer are either females, young bulls, or neutered."

The dress rehearsal was well attended by Front Street Brewery employees who were invited to a private performance to acknowledge their relationship with the Browncoat Theater and Pub. "Thanks to owner Tom Harris and marketing director Ellie Craig, Front Street Brewery has become a strong partner with the Browncoat," Richard Davis shared. "Tom shares our commitment to strengthening the Wilmington culture through cooperation rather than competition...The goal is to build a strong, supportive relationship between our businesses that promotes the downtown culture and encourages people to buy local products and use local services. That's why, at the Browncoat, we only feature locally brewed Front Street beers on draft." Support local theater and take some time to laugh this holiday season-it's the best gift of all.