The SantaLand Diaries | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The SantaLand Diaries 

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David Sedaris's etched-in-acid account of his stint as an elf at Macy's now enjoys nearly as much seasonal currency (via Joe Mantello's adaptation) as A Christmas Carol, and if you look hard you can see the same sentimental underpinnings. Anyone who's watched A Christmas Story will be familiar with the basic conceit: people, in this case department store elves and Santas, show their dark sides when trapped in the holiday pressure cooker. What comes through most clearly in this Theater Wit production is the degree to which parents shamelessly use their children as props for their own narcissistic fantasies. Director Jeremy Wechsler and star Joe Foust haven't yet found the balance between vinegar and sugarplums in this engaging tale--the homiletic denouement feels shoehorned in to leaven the script's bile. But Foust's easygoing charm, Sedaris's undeniable smarts, and Joey Wade and Sean McIntosh's toy-box set help the show go down like mulled wine. Previews Thu 12/2, 8:30 PM. Opens Fri 12/3, 8:30 PM. Through 1/8: Thu-Sat 8:30 PM, Sun 3:30 PM. Sat 12/11, 12/18, and 1/1, 8:30 and 10 PM. Upcoming holiday schedule varies; call for information. Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark, 773-506-8150. $20.

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