Holiday stress punctuates Elf Crumpet’s laments in ‘Santaland Diaries’


by Bob Evans

In the fourth and final year Kansas City Rep’s “Santaland Diaries” opens with the two-person play revised, featuring magical chemistry of the principals, Claybourne Elder and Shanna Jones, in a 70-minute comedy about a disgruntled Macy’s elf.

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Ah, yes, folks, an unemployed transplant to New York City finds the Big Apple more challenging than expected and in desperation for a job, he applies and secures a job with Macy’s as one of a small army of Santaland elves. As Crumpet, the man relates some of his more memorable days in his own special “Miracle on 34th Street” as one of Santa’s helpers.

The re-uniting of Elder and Jones for this final production of the David Sedaris comedy refuels their ability to interact with strong on-stage chemistry. Both give funny characters and display their talents as actors and musicians. Jones shows her strings, tambourine, and kazoo expertise. As for Elder, he played violin, guitar and banjo. Jones provided sarcastic music to punctuate Crumpet’s tongue-in-cheek dialogue. Both are polished performers and make “Santaland Diaries” a joy to watch.

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“David Sedaris’ hysterical tale of elfin’ woe is a hilarious send-up of his brief, misguided career as a Macy’s elf,” KC Rep said. “Last year’s hit production returns, featuring a hilarious score of twisted holiday favorites against the twisted landscape of Sedaris’s unmatched wit. The ‘Santaland Diaries’ skewers our sentimental love of all things Christmas—in a production that has become a beloved part of KC Rep’s annual celebration of the darker side of the holidays.”

The first preview proved the professionalism of the cast. Performance ready, Elder and Jones cruised through the piece. The subtleties and nuances will tighten even more as the production continues. The twisted lyrics and off-beat Christmas songs adds another enjoyable dimension.

The set, always an outstanding element of KC Rep productions remains unchanged in the four productions of “Santaland Diaries.” An oversized green box with a red ribbon unfolds into a fitting Santa land for a Macy’s jolly, premiere elf, Santa. Other elements of the show that deserve mention are the lighting and sound. Both add to the effect of the show.

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“Santaland Diaries” is a great show for adults and mature teens. It’s not a story for younger elementary students. Some adult language is included in the show, but not a lot. Those who can laugh at the trials and tribulations of the frustrated Crumpet will find lots to laugh at in this production.

Tickets to the two current KC Rep shows, “A Christmas Carol” and “Santaland Diaries can be purchased through the KC Rep website. Both show fill the bill holiday presentations. “Santaland Diaries” aims toward a more mature audience while “A Christmas Carol” is a family friendly production. Both are worthy of an evening outing.

Tags: Performing Arts, Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, KC Rep, Kansas City Repertory Theater, “Santaland Diaries”, Theater, Kansas City Theater


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