This holiday season, Actor’s Theatre is showing the saltier side of Santaland, through the eyes of the elf-in’ hysterical holiday helper, Crumpet the Elf. The Santaland Diaries, written by David Sedaris & adapted for the stage by Joe Mantello, is exactly what off-collar comedy lovers like me have been craving for the holidays…along with bourbon in the nog.
On Saturday evening I ventured into the Victor Jory Theatre knowing next to nothing about the saucy shenanigans that awaited me. I knew only that this was a one man show about the holiday season at Macy’s in New York.
One man shows are a high-risk high-reward gamble for theater-goers. The experience will either be awesome, with a single human managing to engage & entertain a crowd for a whole hour, or it will be painfully awkward. Think Chandler in FRIENDS captive in an off-off-off Broadway rendition of something akin to The Vagina Monologues. It’s not pretty.
Fortunately for myself & the other 158 people in the seats, Bear Brummel (Crumpet) delivered a devilishly delicious performance, & every belly shook like a bowl full of jelly for the full 60 minutes. Some bellies shook more than others & we all laughed harder at Crumpet laughing at how hard he’d made someone laugh. (To the lady at the end of the second to top row of the stage right section…please record your laugh & sell it as a ring tone.)
We believed the shame of the grown man in candy cane tights, & the irony of his colorful New York dreams crashing into a pile of crushed velvet. His hilarious recollections and reenactments of the daily grind of a less than jolly holiday laborer were lively & interactive. Also, he rides a tiny scooter. Grown dudes on tiny scooters are universally funny.
There was one player on stage, but the unseen ensemble at work backstage utilized the hidden features of the theatre in ultimately clever ways, gradually transforming the black box into a vibrant holiday scene & providing Crumpet with the tools to make his stories larger than life.
I left cheerfully charmed by this wittily-wrapped package of yuletide fun & highly recommend you all make plans to ditch the kids & treat yo’ self to an adult night at the theater with The Santaland Diaries, showing now through December 23rd. Grab a cocktail or soda on the way in, but sip strategically…lest you spit on your neighbor while laughing.