I’ve worked in retail for quite a few holiday seasons and I will attest that it gives you a really jaded view of the holiday season. Nothing titillates me for Christmas anymore. The songs are annoying (and I know every single word), buying presents makes me anxious, and decorations never look as nice as you want them to. But no one understands this feeling more than author David Sedaris, who wrote a fantastic essay years ago called The Santaland Diaries.
The essay has been adapted into a one-man show, being put on this weekend by South Park Theatre and featuring Stephen Santa as David a.k.a. Crumpet the Elf. The story recounts the year David worked as a Christmas elf in NYC Macy’s, and the nightmarish experiences that could make anyone lose the holiday spirit.
Sedaris’ script shines, easily adapted into an entertaining tale. Sicks kids, awful parents, sexy elves, and oddball Santa Clauses all feature, and we know exactly the kind of people David is telling us about. Anyone who’s ever had to bite back a sarcastic comment to a dumb customer knows the pain he describes. One of my favorite lines ever is when a customer tells David “I’m going to have you fired.” and David says “I wanted to lean forward and tell her ‘I’m going to have you killed.” Still makes me laugh.
Stephen Santa (I have to use his full name to differentiate him fromSanta) does a great job in the role. I’ve expressed a distaste for one-man shows in the past with other productions, but he is very charming and the subject material is so witty and clever that I thoroughly enjoyed this one. He does a nice job of keeping the pace flowing and has some great spot-on impressions of the kind of assholes one meets in a Macy’s at Christmastime.
So for people that don’t care about Linus and Lucy or perhaps don’tthink it’s such a Wonderful Life, I suggest you go see The Santaland Diaries. It truly is the cynic’s holiday play. It’s short, sweet, sarcastic, and biting. This isn’t Scrooge learning a lesson; this is man going through a saga and awaiting his release. Go check it out!
The Santaland Diaries
Presented by the South Park Theatre
Directed by Rob James
Written by David Sedaris
Designed by Rob James (scenery), Sally Berkebile (costumes), Kevin Kocher (lights/sound)
Starring Stephen Santa as David
Special thanks to the South Park Theatre for complimentary press tickets.
The shows is running only this weekend, space is limited, so buy your tickets ahead of time by calling the box office. Also I advise you to get your google directions settled straight away because the theater can be a bit hard to find for a newcomer like me.
Performance Date: December 4, 2014