The Eight: Reindeer Monologues | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues 

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By this time in the season the only Christmas shows I can stand are the twisted ones, the ones that acknowledge that the world is the same sick place at Christmastime, only colder. Jeff Goode's darkly comic one-act dares to reveal, from the reindeers' point of view, what a den of iniquity Santa and Mrs. Claus are running at their North Pole compound. Mrs. Claus is a lush. Santa is a sexual deviant who lusts after his deer. And as for poor Rudolph, well, his sweet fawnlike beauty and compliant disposition had much more to do with him leading the team that year than fog. "Some of the freaky shit they're into," Cupid quips at one point in the show, "even I wouldn't touch." This is the third year in a row a company has produced Goode's delightfully perverse play -- Dolphinback Theatre presented The Eight in 1994 and 1995--but it's the first time that anyone has managed to mine the more sensitive veins in Goode's script (the monologue by the reindeer who accuses Santa of sexual harassment is remarkably touching) without sacrificing his iconoclastic humor. Director Cheryl Snodgrass deserves much of the credit, both because she cast this Les Enfants du Mais show so well--not one actor resorts to the desperate straining after laughs that hurt Dolphinback's production last year--and because her inventive staging, both within and between monologues, makes the show more than just a series of speeches by actors wearing antlers. Zebra Crossing Theatre, 4223 N. Lincoln, 312-409-5736. Through December 28: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $10.

--Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): theater group photo.

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