Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Santaland Diaries"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Beverly Creasey

Foolproof Christmas Gift

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

Give yourself a Christmas present. Give your sweetie a gift that’s foolproof. Rush to Chelsea –yes, I said Chelsea because that’s where Theatre Zone has taken up residence, in a charming neighborhood where restaurants and mom and pop stores are open late. And it’s minutes from Leaverett Circle in downtown Boston. Take the first exit off the Tobin Bridge and it’s a straight shot, just three blocks away. Plenty of parking, too—but rather than give you directions, let me tell you why.

David Sedaris’ SANTALAND DIARIES is the reason. Sedaris has to be the funniest person on National Public Radio and his account of a Christmas job at Macy’s is one of the most hilarious, outrageous pieces they’ve ever run. Since it debuted on the radio, lots of actors have impersonated Sedaris on stage but Rodney Raftery is the real McCoy. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he really is one of Santa’s helpers, year round, not just in Sedaris’ recollections of life as an elf.

Director Danielle Fauteux Jacques has found new impish ways of bringing the piece to life: She gives it heart and a few extra giggles and Raftery plays the heck out of it, butter melting in his mouth one minute, tongue firmly in cheek the next. Raftery’s secret, and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind my revealing it, is that he manages childlike innocence while telling naughty tales out of school. The actors I’ve seen as elves have nailed Sedaris’ sardonic wit (his send-up of a coworker, for instance, who tries to score with every mother waiting on line to see Santa) but nobody conveys sweetness and sincerity like Raftery. It works. You really do want to take this “Crumpet” home for tea…or at least, milk and cookies.

You know how many shopping days are left until Christmas. I don’t want to scare you but you only have one more week to see SANTALAND DIARIES.

"Santaland Diaries" (3 - 26 December)
Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet Sreet, CHELSEA, MA
1 (617)887-2336

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide