The Eight: Reindeer Monologues at the Cell Theatre
For some reason, most people just assume Santa Claus has the moral authority to compile a list every year of who's been naughty and nice. But what gives him that authority? What do we really know about the jolly fat fellow? He only makes an appearance below the 48th parallel once a year for a few hours in the middle of the night. What's he up to the rest of the year?
The mainstream media, as usual, has been slow in picking up this story. I can't think of one major news outlet that's ever bothered to even interview Santa Claus. I know the North Pole is a long way away, but I just can't believe CNN or the New York Times doesn't have the budget to send a single reporter up to Santa's toy shop to talk to the man that's been given carte blanche to lord over Christmas, our most beloved holiday of the year.
Santa Claus must have some powerful friends in high places. There are some indications, however, that the carefully constructed façade protecting merry old St. Nick is beginning to crack. Case in point: The Eight: Reindeer Monologues currently playing at the Cell Theatre.
They're household names. They're international celebrities. They are the eight: Santa's crack elite team of not-so-tiny reindeer—the ones who do all the dirty work, who haul Santa's fat butt all over the damn planet on Christmas Eve, come sleet, hail or level five typhoon.
For the most part, they're a dedicated lot, but a few of them haven't been happy with their working conditions for a long time, and they've come forward with some very serious allegations. In the words of Blitzen, "This sleigh ride is over!" One by one, they take turns delivering their statements into a tape recorder in a dimly lit interrogation room in the offices of the N.P.P.D. (North Pole Police Department).
Dasher (Vic Browder), the natural-born leader of the bunch, tries to keep order with the iron discipline of a marine sergeant. In his opinion, their duty is to shut up and serve, and that's all there is to it. On the other hand, sweet gay Cupid (Dean Eldon Squibb) understands firsthand that there's some sick twisted scenes playing out behind the curtain, and he's tired of it. Prancer (Ross Kelly), a.k.a. "Hollywood," understands this too, but he doesn't want to rock the boat for fear of capsizing his dubious movie career in the process.
Blitzen (Kristin de la O) has had more than enough, though. She's organizing a walk-out, and she doesn't give an elf's ass if she takes Christmas down with her. Comet (Angela Littleton) is a former delinquent who's the boss' one true defender because Santa once rescued her from a life of petty street crime and drug abuse. She refuses to believe anything bad about the big guy despite the pile of mounting evidence to the contrary.
Sweet stupid Dancer (Jacqueline Reid), a former ballet star, has an inkling about Santa's perverted heart, but she needs her job too much to side with the rabble rousers. Then there's Donner (David S. Miller), tormented father of the mentally deficient Rudolph (Kelly O'Keeffe). He's got as much reason as anyone to make sure that smug bastard Kriss Kringle gets taken down—and hard.
Finally, there's Vixen (Julia Thudium). It's really not at all relevant that she once posed nude for Playboy or that she prances around on those four sexy, furry legs in the most revealing of outfits. Yes, she's a slut, but that doesn't mean she deserves the kind of treatment she got from her boss. No one, and I mean no one, should have to work in that kind of hostile environment.
Santa, it turns out, has been a very bad boy for a very, very long time. He doesn't just deserve a lump of coal in his stocking. He deserves a 30-year prison term.
You have to admire these reindeer, though. They aren't playing any games. Sure, they don't always get along, and they don't all take the moral high ground, but they all perform dazzlingly well under pressure. Each of their stories is hypnotic in its own way. At the same time, listening to them all in succession will make you feel awfully dirty inside.
I'm not sure what any of this has to do with the true meaning of Christmas—probably not much—but it's an amazing breaking news story nonetheless. It's well beyond the point where Santa's legal advisers can just tell him to keep it in his pants and have done with it. Laws were broken. Lives were ruined. This time, if there's any justice, Santa's got to pay.
The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, a play by Jeff Goode presented by the Fusion Theatre Company and directed by Robb Sisneros, runs through Dec. 19 at the Cell Theatre (700 First Street NW). Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. Sundays at 2 p.m. $22 general, $17 seniors/students. Thursday performances (excluding opening night) feature a $10 student rush (with valid I.D.) and $15 actor rush (with professional résumé). Group discounts also available. 766-9412.