The SantaLand Diaries | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The SantaLand Diaries 

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Like much of David Sedaris's best work, this piece revolves around the narrator's self-loathing and his waspish disdain for people who are even worse than he is: everyone he meets. So turning his monologue about a hellish holiday job at Macy's into a concert reading with seven actors playing the characters is odd--it dilutes the focus, which is him. Yet Janus Theatre's production, which gives Joe Mantello's stage adaptation a few twists (not all of which work), has its strengths. As directed by Patricia True, who also performs, the clunky transitions between pathos (one kid asks Santa to bring back his dead father) and crassness (horndog elves hit on married women) don't distract from the overriding air of comic chaos. The production values are nowhere near as lavish as in Theater Wit's current show, but the actors have the chops to enliven almost every moment. Through 1/2: Thu 8 PM, Fri-Sat 8 and 9:30 PM, Sun 7 PM. No show 12/23-12/26. Athenaeum Theatre, first-floor studio theater, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500. $10-$15.

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