by Andrew Crisp
The Eight: Reindeer Monologues is no-holds-barred on the subject of Christmas. Written by Jeff Goode, Broadway Play Publishing's Playwright of the Year in 2006, it's a tale that unflinchingly broaches the heavy topics of pedophilia, homosexuality and sexual assault and weaves them into a dark comedy.
A series of monologues from Santa's eight reindeer follow allegations levied against Claus by Vixen. The topics are made all the more poignant by the Herman Cain and Jerry Sandusky scandals brought to light this year, something not lost on director Sean Small of Daisy's Madhouse. For his directorial debut, Small chose to refocus the play from slapstick to serious.
The play moves from Claus' right-hand man Dasher, played by Liam Tain, to the showboating Prancer (aka Hollywood), played by Small himself, to the sultry, damaged Vixen. Angela DeRisio Hiibel as Vixen shines best when flipping between her doe-eyed self and the cock-eyed detective grilling her.
Mike Cronen's accented delivery of Comet's lines lends itself well to the role, and Lena Hauser and Autumn Kersey fill yin-and-yang roles of does Dancer and Blitzen.
Boise High student Aruna League played a flamboyant and foppish male Cupid. Small admitted that some people have been turned off by the portrayal, viewing it as a parody of homosexual men rather than a satire.
He maintains that the character isn't about gender—League gestures to her "shaft of love," clearly portraying a male. He said he picked League based on her talent, calling this cast his "dream team."
The coverup of the Santa/Vixen scandal—with the cast all working to tell their own story of their dysfunctional families—is reminiscent of the Catholic Church coverups and the recent sadness emanating from Penn State. There's laughter, but the play leaves viewers with a heavy heart.