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

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues 

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Some like their holidays light and sugar frosted. And for them the mainstream provides all manner of gooey treats--in the theater, in the movies, and on TV. The rest of us have to depend on such fringe groups as the Stage Actors Ensemble to deliver shows like Jeff Goode's acid-tinged The Eight: Reindeer Monologues. In this witty one-act Santa's a lech, Mrs. Claus is a drunk, and the eight tiny reindeer are as catty and cutthroat as any corporate team. Prompted by a sex scandal that threatens to tarnish Santa's image, Santa's reindeer spill their guts one by one to the audience, revealing in hilarious detail all the north pole's darkest secrets, including the fact that Rudolph was horribly deformed and severely mentally challenged. The beauty of this script is that it doesn't require an expensive set or a perfect cast. So what if your light cues are a little off, as they were the night I saw this production? So what if some of your reindeer seem miscast (Donald Wolfgang Dodge, for example, is not glamorous enough for the Hollywood-spoiled Prancer)? If you happen to have a few gems in the ensemble like Kenneth Johnson, Candra Chavda, or Christa S. Trinler, or if director James Bagnall has a few new ideas for staging the play, so much the better. And if you don't, the thing flies anyway. Performance Loft, Second Unitarian Church of Chicago, 656 W. Barry, 773-529-8337. Through December 9: Fridays-Saturdays, 10 PM. $10.

--Jack Helbig

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