Sunday, December 20, 2015

theatre review - THE SANTALAND DIARIES - Arizona Theatre Company - December 17, 2015

Ron May
photo: John Groseclose
Click here for more information on this productions which runs through December 23rd.

Well-known humorist and author David Sedaris got his first big break back in the early 1990s when he spoke on NPR about his miserable, real-life experience working as an elf at Macy's Santaland. ...Arizona Theatre Company is presenting a well-directed production of Sedaris' humorous tale starring Ron May who does well in delivering Sedaris' snarky persona. It results in a biting holiday remedy that is a perfect counterpoint to the dozens of saccharine sweet Christmas theatrical offerings around town. ...  From overeager children to demanding parents and even some innocent foreigners who have just wandered into the wrong line by accident, these moments make up the bulk of the play and are where Sedaris and May excel in showing us the true nature of individuals who are just trying to get through the holidays. The Santaland Diaries is more of a character study than a full-fledged play, with an ending that hints at happiness but pulls back in delivering anything remotely cheery. May's natural sly appeal works well in delivering Sedaris' tart and comical observations, though there are hints of sweetness and vulnerability beneath his well-mannered delivery—but just a few...He also works well to ensure the part becomes that of an "every man" who is familiar to anyone who took a job because they were desperate or who has had to deal with irate customers. Director David Ira Goldstein's clear direction keeps May's performance truthful and never over the top and manic, thereby retaining the realism of the piece. ...The Santaland Diaries is perfect counter programming for anyone who is looking for a theatrical holiday alternative. Depicting crude yet honest experiences, it may highlight more of the cynicism of the holidays, especially in how it brings out the best and the worst in people, but there is an ember of seasonal warmth burning inside Crumpet's heart—underneath that ugly, green felt costume."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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