BWW Review: Ready to Throttle Your Elf on the Shelf? Well, Theatre in the Park's SANTALAND DIARIES May Be Just the Ticket
Four years ago, my husband and I took our kids to New York for Christmas. Like many unsuspecting fools, we just had to see the Macy's Santa. After winding our way through a gumdrop forest for what seemed to be an eternity, we made it to Santa's house, where he chatted with our fed up children for about 30 seconds before shuffling us off to housewares.
So maybe that's why the Theatre in the Park production of David Sedaris' THE SANTALAND DIARIES tickled my funny bone so.
Sedaris wrote THE SANTALAND DIARIES as an essay. In it he recounts his stint working as an elf at Macy's. Four years later, Joe Mantello adapted Sedaris' piece for the stage. For the last 12 years, Jesse Gephart has been putting on the elf suit and tights and performing the one-act play at Theatre in the Park.
In my opinion, Gephart is one of the Triangle's finest actors. I think his performance in the Theatre Raleigh production of SIGNIFICANT OTHER last summer was one of the best I've seen this year. In fact, he is nominated for a Broadway World Award for that role. He also was electrifying as Dr. Frank N. Furter in Theatre Raleigh's production of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW. And while THE SANTALAND DIARIES is a more relaxed performance than either of those shows, Gephart proves once again he is a versatile performer who can singly command the stage, entertain, and amuse for a solid 90 minutes.
The show starts out more like a stand-up comedy act than a play with Gephart sitting on a stool addressing and occasionally bantering with the audience. Things ramp up to a feverishly funny boil though when Gephart leaves the stage mid-monologue to change into his Crumpet the Elf suit. Then the curtain opens and we are smack dab in the middle of Santaland where Crumpet shares stories of crazed parents, willful kids, unsuspecting foreigners, bad Santas, and eccentric elves. And in keeping with the play's theme, the audience can even take a photo with Crumpet after the show.
This sidesplitting, laugh-out-loud show is a great way for frazzled grownups, especially those ready to throttle their Elf on the Shelf, to escape the frenzy of holiday shopping, wrapping, baking, and prepping. But leave the littles at home because this production is just for the nonbelievers.
THE SANTALAND DIARIES runs through December 23rd at Theatre in the Park. For more information visit: https://www.theatreinthepark.com/whats-on/the-santaland-diaries-2018.html.