Evening Post, Wellington New Zealand, December 3, 1998
(Page 13)

One Santa your kids should never meet
Reviewed by Ewen Coleman

What: The Eight: Reindeer Monologues by Jeff Goode, dir Mark Harris
Where: Stagecraft Theatre, until Dec 12, $17, $12

For those getting a little tired of the usual type of entertainment at this time of year, and who are looking for something different but with a Christmas flavour, then Stagecraft's latest offering in their new venue may be just the thing.

Be warned, however - this production is not your typical Christmas panto and is certainly not for children. It is a hard-hitting in-your-face black comedy about aspects of society that often come into prominence around Christmas time but which are often ignored. Rape, molestation, incest, paedophilia and many more social ills and their consequences are illustrated through a series of confessions by Santa's reindeer, who represent a cross-section of society. The image of Santa portrayed is not the typical one of a big cuddly man in a red suit bringing joy to the world, but of a seducer, rapist and sodomiser. Heady stuff when the day before you have seen kids sitting on Santa's knee in the local department store.

In each of the eight monologues we are told about different aspects of life with Santa and the other reindeer and what really goes on in the toy shop. As each unfolds, we learn about what happened to Rudolph and Vixen until the final monologue when the harrowing truth is revealed.

While not of the quality of Shakespearean soliloquies they nevertheless paint stark images of society and under the assured direction of Mark Harris the eight actors give strong performances that range from being comic and camp to emotionally charged and full of pathos yet always with an underlying sense of sincerity and commitment.

This compelling piece of theatre is not for the fainthearted, but is a must-see for those wanting something a little offbeat for their Christmas entertainment.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sunday, December 13, 1998

In play, Santa's got a brand new bag
Adults-only version gives point of view of his eight reindeer
By Damien Jaques
Journal Sentinel theater critic

"When a does says no, she means no."

Those are the words of a very angry Blitzen, making her case against the world's most beloved fantasy figure, in Jeff Goode's clever and hilarious social satire "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues."

The dark secrets of yet another sacred institution are being revealed, and the accusations are tearing apart a mythically joyful domain. The hoofed legends who bring Santa Claus to our roofs on Christmas Eve are washing their surprisingly dirty linen in public.

There is plenty of jealousy, selfishness and backbiting among the eight elite flying reindeer attached to Santa's sled. But the issue that has brought this to a head is Vixen's charge that Santa raped her.

"A walking, talking, holly jolly sex crime" is the way one of the other eight describe the libidinous old fellow. His past behavior leaves few surprised at Vixen's accusation.

It would appear that Santa is hardly the benevolent old boss we would expect from his public image. And we get quite a different picture of Mrs. Claus, too.

In Tandem Productions opened a delightfully dark and funny production of "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues" Friday night. The show is part of the Theatre X Late Night Series, and no one under 17 will be admitted.

Dramatist Goode, who wrote "The Eight" before the current White House scandal erupted, chose an interesting construction for his 75-minute play. The piece consists entirely of monologues delivered by each of the reindeer who pulled the sleigh.

Each deer displays a different personality and point of view about what has been going on at the North Pole.

Some of the deer overlook Santa's crassly lecherous habits and support him, while others want to bring him down at the cost of destroying Christmas. Still others acknowledge his inappropriate conduct but decline to join the dump-Santa movement.

Its bluntly irreverent treatment of a lofty character, who supposedly personifies the family values of wholesomeness and generosity, makes the play savagely funny at times.

Choosing a favorite among the eight actors in director Chris Flieller's cast is difficult. There is something to like in each performance.

Leading off the series of monologues, Anthony Wood sets the play's tone well with his arrogant and self-centered portrayal of Dasher. Blitzen's monologue is an emotional roller coaster ride of well-stated reasoning and feminist outrage, and Kathleen Wittman deftly handles it without losing control.

Ricardo Rocha contribues an interesting and evocative physicality to his portrait of Comet, the bad deer whom Santa rescued from a life of crime. With her love for dance and her practical self-interest, Dancer may be the most complex reindeer. Susan Dinos serves the character well with appealing charm and a touch of mystery.

"The Eight: Reindeer Monologues" continues through Dec. 20 in the Studio Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway. Tickets are on sale at the center's box office and by phone at 291-7800

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Monday, December 21, 1998

'Reindeer Monologues' deserves to return every year

'Reindeer Monologues' unwraps pretense
Damien Jaques

With holiday shows multiplying like mushrooms, there was a danger that In Tandem Productions' fine staging of "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues" could have become lost in the shuffle. Although the show, part of the Theatre X Late Night series, closed over the weekend, it deserves further comment.

A clever social satire, "The Eight" takes a knowing look at the self-interest that often creeps into the positions we take on moral issues. Playwright Jeff Goode suggests that Santa and his wife are not the paragons of wholesome virtue we have always assumed them to be. Beneath those red outfits rage runaway libidos, and the rest of the North Pole community is in an uproar.

Vixen has accused Santa of rape. Each of the flying reindeer deliver monologues about the crisis.

The situation produces some savage humor. Such irreverent treatment of a revered icon almost guarantees that.

But there is depth and insight behind the laughs. Each deer displays a different personality and point of view, from Blitzen's angry feminist attack on the fat man to Dasher's self-centered lack of interest and Dancer's calculated decision to protect her own interests by deploring the act but supporting its alleged perpetrator.

That's the way life often plays out. Although "The Eight" was written before Monica Lewinsky ever set foot in the White House, playwright Goode certainly could have based his piece on the events of the past year.

The play also gives us a poignant glimpse of what many of us do at the holidays -- pretend we are happy and everything is fine. That moment comes at the end of the monologue delivered by Cupid, the only openly gay reindeer among Santa's elite fliers.

We are awash in warm and fuzzy entertainment this time of year, and that is appropriate. But it is wonderfully refreshing to cut against the grain with a theater piece that is darkly funny and also so true to human nature.

Here is a vote for In Tandem Productions to make "The Eight" another holiday tradition. Bring it back next year.