The Eight: Reindeer Monologues | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues 

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The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, Journeymen Theater Company. Delivered by the eight that draw the miniature sleigh, this tale is sure to tickle the funny bones of young and old alike: Santa Claus, it turns out, is a child molester. Who fucks reindeer. Ho ho ho.

Call me a grinch, but I couldn't get into the spirit of Jeff Goode's holiday hit. Aside from the show's perplexing smear on the benevolent secular face of Christmas, what's supposed to be sharp, shocking, or seriously satiric comes off as counterreactionary cant. Where bawdy farce appears the aim, the mean-spiritedness of the jabs undercuts the "fun." And the weird poignance of the blackest humor still has me scratching my head, especially Goode's grim reworking of the Rudolph subplot.

But if this sounds like your idea of a holly, jolly good time, the eight actors don't disappoint: each one precisely strikes the discordant notes of his or her monologue. Piped-in off-color novelty Xmas songs go a little way toward setting the lighthearted tone the show desperately lacks, and the costumes are cleverly offhand. Director Frank Pullen, ironically staging this ritual assassination before the altar of a Methodist church, paints a high-contrast picture of the material; at heart it's not a pretty one.

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