note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Joe Coyne
Playwright Jeff Goode
Director Pat Mastro
Production Conceived by Yuri Yeremin
Scenic Design Riccardo Hernanadez
Costume Design Catherine Zuber
Lighting Design John Ambrosone
Sound Design David Remedios
Original Music Samrat Chakrabarti
Additional Music James Caran and Nick Niles
Stage Manager Thomas S. Kauffman
Dasher Ben Brown
Cupid Bill Guy
Hollywood Gordon Lammert
Blitzen Barbara Day
Comet John Kennedy
Dancer Joni Metras
Donner Phil LaCroix
Vixen Barb Lammert
"Eight Reindeer Monologues" is a very ambitious undertaking for a community theater and a play choice usually selected by "urban" artistic directors and fringe groups. Since there were only two performances (it is over as you read this) the actors will not have the time to arrive at the cadence and rhythm needed to develop the "attitudes" and style for each of the eight pieces. In their newsletter the production is listed as a workshop (not so in the program sheet or in the promotional material): perhaps a script in hand production with energy spent on feeling the lines and getting into the different characters would have resulted in carrying the playwright's disjointed message. Most comfortable to watch were Bill Guy as Cupid and Joni Metras as Dancer.
I have wanted for some time to see "Monologues" by Jeff Goode since I read part of it some years ago. (I was not in the area for Boston Theatre Works production this winter). The goofy premise so filled with potential for insight and comedy aroused my interest: to see if it could be delivered.
This production was by the Gateway Players Theater in Southbridge, Massachusetts a little over 65 miles from Boston. They have been putting on community productions for 27 years in a post and beam barn (heated) that is part of the Wells Homestead. The Wells family founded American Optical Company which was the reason to be for Southbridge and they bequeathed their home and out buildings to the performance arts. The dark wood of the barn roof and beams sets the mood for an Amish play with a buggy laden with school kids ready to pull in and display the values of the old world. With Sturbridge Village just ten miles down the road it seems possible.
Santa is the subject of a sexual harassment law suit brought by Vixen. Each of the reindeer has something to say on the subject; each from a different location on the sexual field of play. Some say it with bigotry and jaundiced eyes, some with blind optimistic vision, others with regret and resignation. The general consensus of the herd is Santa is a dirty old man and always has been: but the allegations are now rape and pedophilia. Even Mrs. Claus gets thrown into the pot as a practicing alcoholic and a sexual predator. The defendants never get to take the stand and the severely dark comedy rests on the testimony of the deers. If there is to be balance between "the fat boy" described as "a sex crime waiting to happen" or as Saintly Nick rescuer of the oppressed, there is none. The flow comes down severely against Santa.
Goode has used every opportunity to insert overplay of the language: deer rutting, teenage fun of knocking over igloos, dressing in leather and bells, peanuts for pay, tail tweaking, It is deer personification to the max. The script is mostly humorous, the puns continuous and piled on. Goode takes on a myriad of subjects, perhaps too many: Oscar nominations, bad drugs, homophobia, celebrity wannabees and he dilutes his main concerns: screwed up society's method of dealing or refusing to deal with issues of import. The issue of the day is lack of tolerance of differences, especially those relating to sex. Goode always goes for the laugh. It is like throwing a spear through the eye of a needle: it wipes out what appears to be his real aim.
Gateway's next production (April) is the premier of "Bob for God" an examination of a close election held on Mount Olympus amoung the deities to select Chief God, inspired by a not so local election in Florida a few years back.