Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Santaland Diaries"

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entire contents copyright 2009 by Tony Annicone

"The Santaland Diaries

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Gamm Theatre's holiday season show this year is the return engagement of David Sedaris' comic monologue "The SantaLand Diaries" adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello. The show is back after a season-long hiatus, on the heel of two previous smash-hit runs, Crumpet, the surly Macy's Christmas elf is once again in his element-a crass, commercial winter wonderland and spewing his special brand of unconventional holiday humor. This one act play is based on Sedaris' experience as a one-time Macy's Christmas elf named Crumpet. He arrives in New York in 1990's with dreams of being a writer for the soap opera "One Life to Live" and instead lands a part-time job as an elf. From humiliating elf indoctrination to scrapes with miscast Santa Claus' and obnoxious customers, this hilarious tale is spun by a talented, Steve Kidd who is a Gamm resident actor, as Crumpet, the elf. The show is merrily subversive (he relates the only thing he ever whittled in his life was a bong as well as a dwarf elf being well liked because he coasts on his looks) and fall-on-your-knees funny. This clever show is an excellent alternative to "A Christmas Carol" and Steve's high energy presentation will leave you cheering at his comic antics all night long.

Director Christopher Francis Byrnes, also a Gamm resident actor, injects many humorous antics and moments of shtick into this show including Steve's interactions with the audience. Marc McClure stages manages this clever show with a funny green velvet elf costume by David Howard. Kathryne Hecht designed the winter wonderland set. Steve is a bundle of energy during his over one hour long show. His comic description of the characters on "One Life to Live" as well as his exploits on becoming an elf are beautifully done. Crumpet complains about having to wear a green velvet suit and nearer to Christmas he changes his name to Blisters. Steve commands the stage, running around explaining the different sections of Santa Land as well as all the weird people he meets (a father from New Jersey who says his son needs a fucking woman) and works with every day including Ginger Snap who is a fat elf and asks stupid questions, Flakey, a bitchy elf who designs strange art with hair on it and Walrus, a womanizing elf who tries to pick up the kid's mothers. He shows off his comic side in this show but showed his serious side as Tybalt in "Romeo and Juliet". Steve has a touching scene where he describes a Santa who takes a real interest in the people he meets, showing a softer side to Crumpet. So for a Christmas show with an adult theme to it,be sure to catch "The Santa Land Diaries" where you will leave the theatre laughing uproariously at Crumpet's crazy antics after you give him very well deserved standing ovation.

"The Santaland Diaries" (10 - 27 December)
GAMM THEATRE
@ 172 Exchange Street, PAWTUCKET RI
1 (401)723-4266

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |