Santaland Diaries Play Review

April 15, 2023
David Sunnyside

santaland diaries play review

A sardonic sendup of Christmas commercialism, the one-man santaland diaries plays with holiday cheer and sarcasm to create a clever story of elf oppression.

Based on humorist David Sedaris' famous essay, santaland diaries is adapted to the stage by Joe Mantello. It tells the tale of a disillusioned actor who seeks employment in New York City and ends up at Macy’s as an elf.

Actor Max Tachis is a master at portraying Crumpet’s warring sides with dexterity, oscillating between sardonicism and idealism with a bitter charisma that coats the material in equal parts alienation, bitterness and holiday spirit. As the show progresses, Tachis transitions between different voices, dialects and colloquialisms to fill out Crumpet’s journey with context.

A riotous, irreverent take on the commercial tinsel of the season, this production is a must for any sane grown-up who wants to experience a little retail hell on a cold December night. Adapted from Sedaris’s beloved memoir, this play is a sharp, narrowly observed dark comedy that’s destined to stand the test of time.

Cast with larger-than-life actors to bring the stories to life, santaland diaries is the perfect antidote to a holiday routine that bogs down our spirits with a plethora of overbearing Santas, aggressive parents, drunken Santas and flirtatious actors. In addition to a few hilarious lines, the play delivers a number of priceless observations that are outrageous and subtle.

This is a fun, one-man production that has been running for over 20 years now and has been remade in many venues throughout the North Bay. While some of the scenes may seem dated (Sedaris’s account of his disgusting colleague Walrus who propositioned waiting mothers while wearing an elf costume doesn’t have the comic impact it once did), this year’s version by TheatreWorks continues to deliver the laughs. The sardonic wit and incisive social criticism that made Sedaris one of America’s preeminent humor writers makes this one of the best holiday shows in the North Bay, especially for adults.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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