by Shawn Stalter
published December 9, 2018 by onstageblog.com
The holiday season is officially upon us. ‘Tis the season to celebrate the joys of time spent with friends and family, bake cookies, wrap gifts, roast chestnuts, hang stockings…have a nervous breakdown in the middle of a department store while desperately trying to subdue your screaming child after standing in line for two hours to enjoy a 30-second visit with Santa just so your five year old can ask for an $800 iPhone for Christmas.
If you’ve already had enough of the sugar-coated, corny holiday classics this year and need some “spice” in your eggnog, then you should visit the Reid Cabaret Theatre and experience the one-elf show, “Santaland Diaries.” In this hilarious and highly-cynical take on the modern Christmas experience, Zak Reynolds as “Crumpet the elf” wistfully recounts the days he endured working at the pinnacle of the commercial holiday orgy, Macy’s very own Santaland in New York City.
From shepherding urine-soaked, spoiled toddlers to Santa’s lap to dealing with obnoxious parents and more, Zak Reynolds offers a comedic and sobering, sometimes depressing, examination of the “most wonderful time of the year”. Although the performance took a few minutes to get off the ground and hit its stride, it was an enjoyable hour spent exploring the deep spiritual lows abundant in the modern American Christmas experience. Zak Reynolds’ diverse character representations, musical interludes and rapid-fire delivery helped pull back the thin veneer of civility, humility and joy of the holiday season to lay bare the stress, anxiety and depression lurking beneath. Zak’s obvious enthusiasm for the role shone throughout the story as he delivered a high-tempo, energetic and engaging performance.
The intimate 70-seat Reid Cabaret Theatre served as the perfect venue for the occasion providing Crumpet the opportunity to engage the audience and traverse the room. Although primarily sardonic, the story of “Santaland Diaries” isn’t all bleak. At times, the opaque curtain of sarcasm in this tale lifts to reveal simple pleasures of the season we may find in unexpected moments. All told, “Santaland Diaries” is a much-welcome one hour, uncensored, boisterous romp through the darker side of the holiday season.
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Photo credit: Chip Tompkins
by Shawn Stalter