THE EIGHT: REINDEER MONOLOGUES, Dolphinback Theatre, at Zebra Crossing Theater. Plays with premises as clever as this--a furor erupts when Santa Claus is accused of sexual harassment by a couple of his reindeer--usually have trouble living up to their potential. That's because most playwrights are lazy. They think it's enough to announce their comic twist baldly and loudly early in the play and then to keep beating it until the play's over (and the audience is brain-dead). But Chicago-based playwright Jeff Goode is an exception to this rule. Throughout the eight witty monologues that make up this extended one-act he keeps the audience in suspense, tantalizing us with a hint here, a glimpse there of Saint Nick's nefarious activities, but never revealing the whole story until the play's almost over.
Goode also raises the tension by making all of the reindeer full, flawed characters whose views of the events are so subjective and limited that none of them has all the details. We have the macho Dasher (Phil Gigante) complaining about the fact that a reindeer complained, the feminist Blitzen (KellyAnn Corcoran) turning the event into an opportunity to advance her political agenda, and the self-absorbed Prancer, who's renamed himself Hollywood (Tom Gottlieb), more concerned with the failure of his movie on video than with the fate of one of the alleged victims, Rudolph. This is a rarity in the non-Equity world: a well-written play that's well acted too.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Debra DiMaio & Paul Patkin.