Dec 05

Lunchbox Theatre’s ‘The Santaland Diaries’ is a good dose of cynicism

by Jenna Shummoogum · 0 comments

Crumpet the Elf is a down to earth kind of guy and he is telling it like it is. ‘It’ is his experience being a mall elf at Santaland in Macy’s, a story written by David Sedaris. The play, titled The Santaland Diaries, produced by Lunchbox Theatre was originally an essay that launched Sedaris’ career back in 1992 and Lunchbox Theatre produced in back in 2006 starring Dave Kelly. It was so successful back then, that they have remounted it with actor Devon Dubnyk in the solo role. The story is sardonic and curmudgeonly, and we could all use a dose of that around the holidays!

The play tells of Crumpet the Elf, who finds himself unemployed in New York, looking for work. Macy’s is looking to fill the positions of holiday elves in Santaland, so Crumpet applies. After a rigorous interview process, he is almost dismayed to get the job. From here, Crumpet tells us about the many elves that he gets to work with, how he doesn’t know their real names, just their elf names and regales us with tales about their forced cheeriness. We learn about everything from oh my god lane, to throw up alley and the different Santa Clauses and how they interact with the children. It’s all told with a Sedaris spin, and if you’re familiar with National Public Radio, you’ll almost hear his voice vibrate with Dubnyk’s.

Dubnyk has a solid stage presence that carries his story and allows the dark humour to take up space. Kelly Reay’s direction has him moving throughout the set and letting the story breathe. David Smith’s set design has Santa’s house on stage, a chair for St. Nick and and entrance with large candy canes. Ralamy Kneeshaw’s costume design is suited for the show with Dubnyk in not terribly flattering green shorts, a festive yellow vest, a striped red t-shirt and elf shoes and hat. It brings out Crumpet’s cynicism, because he knows that he looks like “the love child of Ronald McDonald and Where’s Waldo”. Chad Blain’s sound design features some great festive music.

There is a moment in the play, towards the end, where Crumpet sheds his sardonic nature and tells of an experience with Santa that touched him. Without this moment, the play would have been just an anecdote of being a holiday elf in Santaland. The moment felt a bit out of place and a bit forced. It would have played just as smoothly without it. Not every story has to have a perfect bow on top. It can be just a story about the grimacing and griping that surround the holiday season.

Lunchbox Theatre’s The Santaland Diaries runs until December 23. More information is available online.

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