16 to 19 Dec. 2000 (2100) @ The Store (formerly The GRV), Guthrie Street
The Eight are the elite reindeer team whose mission it is to see Santa safely through horrendous conditions so that he can penetrate your chimneys, creep about your houses and give your kids something to remember him by. But what exactly does he give them? And what exactly happened in the currently raging Toy Shop scandal? For allegations of sexual harassment have been made against Santa Claus by a member of The Eight and Christmas itself is under threat.
Peapod Productions’ debut is a play for adults in which dark and rather dirty comedy, including some fine one-liners, is a strong foil for the severity of the allegations being made. While the claim that the truth becomes ‘funnier and funnier’ isn’t quite merited, the many laughs in Jeff Goode’s play serve to highlight the deeply disturbing subject matter – what those in power might be getting away with, given closed doors and knowing collusion, here seen in the sexual arena. Fortunately, The Eight stimulates thought without being too heavy in its presentation, for Stuart Nicoll’s direction balances the light and dark well.
Three actors – Philip Kingscott, Thomas Hallen and Justine Wortsman – bring seven of the elite herd to contrasting life, with obvious humour, clear characterisation and versatility, while Kirsty Eila McIntyre, as Santa’s accuser, makes her presence felt very effectively, and sensually, in her single role. The eight reindeer are clearly depicted and provide great fun which is then punctuated at points by some shocking poignancy. Stereotypes – stiff-upper-lip officer, entertaining gay, feminist activist, reformed hell raiser, bubbly airhead, doddery dad and in-your-face slut – are rounded out with conflicting aspects and made very human for all that they are reindeer.
The play is not as ambiguous as one might first expect – that could be a plus or minus – the cabaret setting is not fully explored physically, sometimes accents wander confusingly and very occasionally connection to the style of writing is not fully realised / believable. That said, this is a show worth seeing.
There are always a number of claims at this time of year for ‘alternative Christmas shows’ – The Eight: Reindeer Monologues can certainly make that claim without contradiction. This play is already very popular in the states and has become a tradition in some places, playing for its seventh time in one American theatre right now. Here, Peapod Productions brings it to you – find out if this dirty, dark, disturbing comedy can become part of your seasonal traditions!