- “The Eight: Reindeer Monologues” is not for the
squeamish. If Christmas is an undiluted sentimental feast for
you, you will have problems with the tone of scandal and
irreverence that dominates this production by Jeff Goode.
But for those of you who are open to looking at an
alternate point of view, especially after the holidays when
we’re all a bit sated with the hoopla, you’ll enjoy it.
Lake County Playhouse in Hartland has gathered together eight
fine actors to take the roles of “the elite eight,” who
drive Santa’s sleigh. Each gives us his or her perspective
on a variety of subjects from the character of Santa and Mrs.
Claus, the interactions among the reindeer, the intrusion of
Rudolph, the dangers of flying in bad weather conditions, and
just the general life
of this particular special species.
Americans love satire. Anyone or anything is a potential
target for our brand of humor.
seem particularly amused if a person of power and pristine
reputation is brought down. Those who present themselves as
flawless are particularly vulnerable to a downfall that
delights us. Thus, Santa is maligned and never has a chance to
defend himself. However, one of the reindeer, Comet, presents
a pretty strong case in his favor.
reindeer, beginning with Dasher, the leader of the pack, has
his 10 minutes on stage to tell his or her story. All of the
stories are fascinating. Mike Crowley flubs some lines but
still comes across as strong and competitive. He hated the
year that he was upstaged by Rudolph and considers himself far
superior to the little runt with the red nose.
comes the insecure, effeminate Cupid, stunningly enacted by
Phil Stepanski. There’s lots of humor here but a good touch
of pathos, as well.
Prox as Prancer ( aka Hollywood) is very ego-driven and really
believes that there should have been a movie made about him.
Prox is a little uncertain about his lines at times but
captures the bravado of Prancer’s character.
a brassy feminist strongly rendered by Lisa Rowe, sticks with
the other two females in the group regarding Vixen’s rape
charge. You don’t want to mess with Blitzen. At the
beginning of Act II, Comet enters, setting a completely
different tone. Bryan Noll is especially effective in his
defense of Santa as a kind man who helped him rehab his
tattered life. After all the vilifying remarks of others,
Comet’s perspective offers a striking contrast.
of the most delightful monologues is delivered by Dancer,
played by Tarolyn Fulkerson. The way she gracefully flits
about the stage telling her poignant story completely captures
our hearts. Donner, Rudolph’s father, enters next. His tale,
morosely regaled by Jon Jones, reveals the tortuous decisions
people sometimes make and the unforeseen results that can
ensue. Other than
shouting too much, Jones was effective.
Vixen takes the stage, a climactic moment. Ramsey Schlissel
aced her part as the sexy, histrionic babe. She defended her
promiscuity and contradicted the assumption that many make
that a woman’s appearance and history are an invitation to
rape. The perpetrator-victim model is clearly seen here.
People in power often write their own rules. This well-written
play has many funny lines.
The language is unforgiving; the situations, graphic;
and the issues raised, provocative. This is a play about
power, about idols with feet of clay. Some people need heroes,
some people hate them, and some love toppling them.
a postseason switch in style, “The Eight: Reindeer
Monologues” fits the bill. It is well directed by the
versatile Carl Liden.
Eight: Reindeer Monologues” is staged at 7:30 p.m. tonight,
Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Lake Country
Playhouse, 221 E. Capitol Drive, Hartland. Call 262-367-4697
or visit www.lakecountryplayhouse.net