Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Eight: Reindeer Monologs"

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"The Eight: Reindeer Molologs"

by Jeff Goode
Directed by Fran Weinberg

Set & Lighting Design by Jeff Gardiner
Stage manager JulieAnn Wilks

Dasher..............Joseph Zamparelli, Jr.
Cupid...........................Mark Soucy
Hollywood............Gordon Gauntlett, Jr.
Blitzen......................Julie Perkins
Comet...........................Cliff Odle
Dancer............Danielle Fauteux Jacques
Donner...........................Ed Sorell
Vixen.........................Cindy Barlow

Big trouble up at the North Pole this month. Rumors are flying, and a pack of trenchcoated reporters with t-v cameras and papparazzi in tow are howling around The Eight for statements and stories that none of Santa's reindeer will give. Luckily, each one separately will talk to select friends --- like the audience. After hearing from everyone, those who have seen things and only heard things, it's difficult to say for sure, but under all that conflicting smoke there must be a fire of some sort, right?

Dasher (Joseph Zamporelli, Jr.) and Comet (Cliff Odle) are both adamantly loyal to their big boss, while Blitzen (Julie Perkins) has hit the lecture circuit fomenting feminist does everywhere with charges of long-time sexual harrassement and rape. Cupid (Mark Soucy), the only openly homosexual reindeer on the team, has heard plenty of things that could curl his antlers, but can't speak from personal experience. Only Vixen (Cindy Barlow) herself knows what really happened that afternoon in the Toyshop --- something that is making her resign and retire to Florida, --- something that turned poor Rudolph into a catatonic because of what he witnessed. And his father, old Donner (Ed Sorrell), has things to say about the fawn with the nose that are hard to believe. Then, of course, not all The Eight are militantly choosing sides. Dancer (Danielle Fauteux-Jacques) misses her days in reindeer ballet, while the star of the film "Prancer"(Gordon Gauntlett, Jr.) is so caught up in his career they're calling him Hollywood now.

A show like this could easily turn into a competing exercise in one-upmanship, with each solo actor hoping to blow the rest right off the stage. Luckily director Fran Weinberg has played refferee, seeing to it that each reindeer in turn has a completely new personality, a unique relationship to the audience, and even a special style of delivery. Mark Soucy, flamboyantly cross-dressed, flits all about the stage, feather-boa flying, while Fauteux-Jacques remains coiled on her coffee-house chair. Jule Perkins orates and cajoles, while Cindy Barlow is a resigned victim who won't press charges because it's her word against his, and he's a Saint.

Each antlered actor is fully at home centerstage, and confident that writer Jeff Goode wrote their own monolog as the starring one, which is as it should be. After a while the search for truth in the conflicting counter-accusations, and even the hilarious send-ups of current social styles, are less fascinating than the continually innovative playing styles. This cast is well-drilled, confident enough to take risks, and vibrantly alive.

The chill of the rumor-ridden North Pole is even more memorable than the many belly-laughs. But they're fun too.


"The Eight: Reindeer Monologs" (till 20 December)
Actors' Workshop, 40 Boylston Street, BOSTON

THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide