BWW Review: THE SANTALAND DIARIES at Castle Craig Players
On Thursday, December 7, I was highly entertained by the Castle Craig Players' production of THE SANTALAND DIARIES, a comedy by David Sedaris, directed by Melanie Del Sole, and starring Ian Galligan as Crumpet, the disgruntled Macy's elf.
The set was SantaLand, a place in Macy's consisting of a big chair for Santa, and various Christmas décor. The back wall was lit by different colored lights, throughout the show, changing the moods of the scenes, where appropriate. Some brief background music was played, indicating changes of scenes, while some perfectly timed sound effects, including a female voice on a P.A. system also enhanced the scenes.
Ian Galligan was sensational, carrying the one man show, while keeping the audience entertained, and staying in character at all times, even while deliberately breaking the fourth wall, with a lively audience who were all having a great time. With no intermission and a whole lot of lines, this requires an incredible memory and amazing stage presence, as Ian Galligan uses the entire stage to his advantage, going up front and center, stage left, stage right, and sitting on Santa's chair towards the back center of the stage, always seeming to be in the most natural spot to deliver the lines he was delivering.
The show starts out with Ian Galligan telling about the whole application and interview process, as well as the mind-set behind the decision to apply to be an elf. He goes on to tell amusing stories and some more serious stories of co-workers and customers, once he became an elf called Crumpet. The humor is brilliant in that the stories sound plausible, as if they were based on someone's real life experiences, or those of numerous people. Some of the farcical parent/children interactions that Crumpet witnessed seem highly believable from the perspective of anyone who has ever professionally dealt with children and their parents. Ian Galligan's spot-on enthusiastic delivery sells every story he tells. He does amazing voice impressions, including of Katherine Hepburn, enhancing the humor and high energy level of his encounters as a Macy's elf. He even tells of someone named, La-ah which I heard is in fact a real girl's name, and real spelling of that name. The way that name is pronounced had the whole playhouse laughing. How is it pronounced? Come to the show to find out!
I highly recommend this show for mature audiences (The show is officially age restricted at 14 due to some of the language and content.) The candor portrayed of what some of those mall elves may really be thinking could shatter the positive illusions of jolly good cheer that mall elves with good acting talent successfully convey to children. For mature adults, on the other hand, the honesty of this show's comedy will have you laughing, highlighted by an amusing pick-up line that one of Crumpet's co-workers once used. What was that pick-up line? Come to the show and find out!
The Castle Craig Players' production of THE SANTALAND DIARIES, at the Almira F. Stephan Memorial Playhouse, in Meriden, CT, is scheduled to continue to run, only this weekend, with just three shows remaining, Friday December 8 at 8:00 P.M., Saturday, December 9 at 8:00 PM, and Sunday, December 10 at 2:00 PM. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.castlecraig.org/tickets/.
Photo Credit: Erin Shaw