Sun Sentinel
December 7, 2005

A Pair Of Rants On The Christmas Season

by Jack Zink Theater Writer

Jerry Seeger and Elena Maria Garcia reinvent do-it-yourself theater with the latest package under their Underdog Productions label. The staging of two cheeky rants on the Christmas holiday season gives each a showcase for insult humor, surrounded by a group of snarling neophyte minions.

The one-act rants are both written by Jeff Goode. First up is Seeger as Mary in An UnXmas Story, which surely seems like an obscenity-laden take on the celebrated events of Christmas night in Bethlehem.

The roughly 20-minute skit begins like a Don Rickles-ish standup routine by Arnaldo Carmouze, as a smart-aleck shepherd who doesn't want to leave his flock on the orders of a fey angel (Jeison Tomi, with fuzzy wings). It ends with Wilfredo Cabrera lavishing gold and frankincense on Seeger and Jose Antonio Paredes as the battling couple, for their child in a barn behind the inn.

The other is The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, coincidentally being given an equally rude but more polished and professional outing across town by the Sol Theatre Project. Garcia exchanges gender personas as Santa's three does, Dancer, Blitzen and Vixen. It's a versatile, if not particularly commanding, performance.

Vixen has accused Santa of raping her. The other reindeer are offering statements about what they know or suspect. Carmouze, Tomi, Cabrera and Paredes fill in the other reindeer characters in a continuing series of stand-up (or sitdown) tirades that reveal Santa's North Pole compound as a sex-obsessed, egocentric cult encampment.

The Eight runs to slightly more than an hour of speechifying that lets the air out of some of Goode's most explosive jokes. Sometimes, even black box theater should think outside the box.