Theatre Review: It’s Like Watching a Reindeer Meltdown

review

Note: This review was posted on the KC Stage review system.

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, written by Jeff Goode, directed by Jeff Newman. Produced by She&Her Productions (Kansas City). Copyright 1997. (Seen December 3, 2010.) 

I’ve known about The Eight: Reindeer Monologues for a couple of years ago, and it’s all due to an online comic I read called “Something Positive”. Because this online comic has a wicked, dark humor (read the first comic if you don’t believe me) — when the author (who’s a theatre person) mentioned willingly being in this production, I knew this was not your typical Christmas show. And when I first saw that there was a production that was going to be in Kansas City this year, I was super excited to go see it.

Written by UMKC alum Jeff Goode, The Eight are — as advertised — eight separate monologues performed by the reindeer you know so well. Only these aren’t the reindeer you’re familiar with (“Fog my reindeer ass,” says Dasher about that ‘incident’ that lives on in song, as he downs a shot of alcohol). No, no, no — these show a side of the little corporation from the North Pole in a whole different light.

The first hints of something far more serious going on (especially with Vixen’s ‘incident’ with Santa) are early in the initial monologues that are primarily comedic. Cupid’s monologue especially, while on the surface seems a gay romp (pun intended), has traces of that feeling where you know you’re not getting the full story. Dancer’s monologue especially starts showing what this production is really about.

Kudos go out to the whole cast: the three who were double-cast (Taylor St. John, Corbin Hernandez, and Melissa Loper) all had distinct enough personalities with their different reindeer that I had a hard time knowing which roles they were double-cast as. While there were a few flubbed lines (and Hernandez’s Cupid seemed to be too much ‘make sure I get the lines down’), for the most part they did a great job.

But special attention has to be given to Ayla Glass as Vixen. While Loper’s Dancer monologue and St. John’s Donner monologue definitely help turn the tone, Glass had the one that was mostly serious. And doing drama — especially after such outrageous comedy — is hard. Too many times, the actor goes overboard with the drama, overplaying and overacting worthy of a villain on a soap opera. Glass did a stupendous job of keeping that mix of being serious but detached.

If you’re tired of the same old ‘good will toward men’ Christmas offerings this year, be sure to check out The Eight. It definitely lived up to what I was expecting, and now that they’ve got a performance under their belt, it can only get better.

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues runs through December 11 at the Crane Building.