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The Santaland Diaries (2007)

CATEGORY : COMEDY
by David Sedaris

COMPANY : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Horizon Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
ID# 2632

SHOWING : November 23, 2007 - December 30, 2007

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

He's Baaaaaack! Harold Leaver is Crumpet the Elf, in this eighth mounting of David Sedaris sure-to-be-classic "Anti-Christmas" story. An evening guaranteed to appeal to the Christmas Cynic in all of us!


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REVIEWS

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Still Crazy After All These Years
by Dedalus
Thursday, January 3, 2008
5.0
In the spirit of the “It worked last time, so why not beat it into the ground” planning style of most theater companies (and, to be fiscally responsible, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that style), and since, to its credit, my reaction to “The Santaland Diaries” was just as pleasant this time as last, I’ll recycle my 2005 review (which, itself, was a recycling of my 2004 review. Yes, Sloth is running amok in the Dedalus PC again).

For the Umpteenth year, Horizon is presenting Harold M. Leaver as Crumpet, the Macy’s Elf in David Sedaris’ “The Santaland Diaries.” This was my third visit, and I must say, I once again had a laugh-out-loud, incredibly good time.

Written as a monologue, Horizon makes the excellent choice of adding two Protean Character actors, Marcie Millard and Enoch King, to take on a plethora of one-note roles to support Mr. Leaver’s Crumpet. The penchant for schtick that sometimes undercuts many one-note performances, is here the perfect device to quickly present character, nuance, and laughter, all with the same over-the-top gesture or expression. Ms. Millard and Mr. King have enormous fun with the wide range of stuff demanded of them.

But it’s Harold Leaver who really sells this show. On stage for the entire 90 minutes of the play, he must interact with the audience, with his costars (who, more often than not, lose in a silent scene-stealing battle of upstaging schtick), and with the witty words Mr. Sedaris has put in his mouth. Sedaris is famous for his short pieces of whimsy, designed to celebrate eccentricity, finding humor in the darkest of places (a reading of this play's companion piece, "Season’s Greetings,” will show just how dark he can get), but ultimately, making us like the characters he so thoroughly skewers. Crumpet and his story fully embodies every irritation we experience during the Holidays, without losing the sense of fun that compels even the most irreligious of us to celebrate it. There is even a moment at the end that threatens (almost) to fall into the sentimentality that overwhelms most Christmas Theatre fare, reminding us that even this has its place (if not for too long).

Yes, this show is a Christmas cynic’s delight. It is also filled with a good will towards its characters that so many pundits seem to be losing this year. (I'd like to know when anger and bitterness towards someone wishing you a "Happy Holiday" became part of "Good Will Towards Men" -- but I digress). I strongly urge you to visit (or revisit) Crumpet before it’s too late.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)

2007 Postscript: The fun thing about this script is how easily topical reference can be slipped in. This year, be prepared for references to (among others) I-Phones, Segways, Mitt Romney, “Dancing With the Stars,” and, in a particularly brilliant piece of integration, Sub-Prime Mortgage Lenders. It gives this 10-Plus-Year-Old script a polish that makes it fresh year after year.
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