The Stage
Friday, November 5, 2010

The Eight - Reindeer Monologues

by Paul Vale

The eight reindeers who pull Santa's sleigh every year are called to bear witness to the innocence of their employer. On paper, this is a frightfully cynical exercise in besmirching the reputation of the jolly fat man in the red suit. In performance, it is a series of eight very poignant monologues that aim to explore the nature of cover-ups, and which bring into question the value of speaking out when remaining silent might be better for the greater good.

There are some structural problems, but author Jeff Goode has a particularly fluid style, and director Matthew Lloyd Davies has brought together a fascinating cast for this offbeat yet undeniably absorbing piece.

There are some remarkable performances from the eight angry reindeer, including James McGregor as the fascist, closeted Comet and Heather Johnson as a docile, innocent Dancer. Verbose and egotistical Prancer, brought to life by Roger Rowley, swaggers about the stage bitching about his next movie, while proud Dasher, played by Alex Gartshore, epitomises the working-class ethic, boasting of a lifetime's achievements. Kali Peacock brings assurance and authority to the activist Blitzen, but it is the excellent Kirsty Malpass as Vixen who is the focus of all the furore.