The Santaland Diaries
Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park, FL
The Santaland Diaries By David Sedaris With Bee Jay Aubertine Clinton Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park, FL
Those poor people dressed like Elves helping the mall Santa have real feelings as well. Don’t let your kids pee on him.
One of the wonderful things about Christmas is the low paid seasonal jobs that pop-up. Sure, the pay’s low, the hours horrendous, and the benefits nonexistent, but hey- it’s cash in hand. This bitterly funny look at the store Santa trade is one of Sideris’ best works. He’s new in NYC, and hasn’t pluged in with the studio 54 crowd and food requires money of some sort. Getting the job is tough; there’s interviews, background checks, dope tests, and you start with the evil bureaucracy that’s needed to bring so much holiday joy to small children. We’ll come back to that point in a bit.
Aubertine puts real life into this one-man production; he bothers the audience, he jumps over furniture, he drinks a bottle of stage Scotch. He’s snarky, coy, cute and bitter; he’s the ultimate Gay Everyman. He even gets 3 couches and some stuffed chairs up around the Christmas tree. I’ve said it before, and here it is again: For a tiny space with not much backstage, you get a big show in this joint. I suspect the stories told are true; under the tinsel and fake snow there’s a deep encrustation of beuauracy: interviews, training classes, forced joy, and devastating hours. But there a comradery, a view into the many ways you can be a Santa, and how to make the best out of a crap assignment. And let’s think of the children: tired, confused, overwhelmed and in deep need of urination. They are the real victims here; they just want have fun while their over- achieving parents hope for that crystalline moment of holiday perfection. Gift wrap THAT, mom.