by Erica J Brennan
I have a particular fondness for dinner theatre because it implies a whole evening devoted to good company, good food, and nothing but pure entertainment. Living and working in Sydney and recently becoming more involved in experimental and interdisciplinary arts, I relish the chance to get back to a live show that lets nothing but my funny bone be tickled. Therefore it was with some excitement that I made a long cold drive up the Great Western Highway towards the Leura Golf Course and The 8 Reindeer Monologues.
This production takes the form of eight monologues loosely centered around a confessional telling of some shady crime the holly jolly Santa Claus has committed against his one of his reindeer. In an extremely haphazard and shallow way a longer list of dark deeds in uncovered over the 2 hour show. Vixen is claiming rape and Rudolf the lovable red nose reindeer has been reduced to a huddled mess after witnessing something he shouldn’t have. Mrs Claus is an alcoholic who likes to strap elves to her genitals. Written here, these individual elements sound like interesting fodder for a vicious cabaret, but in putting them together this production has some very hit-or-miss moments.
A warning was attached to the promotional material stating that The 8 Reindeer Monologues is an ‘adults-only black comedy’ and I have no objection to dark material (must laugh other wise we cry right?) but be warned that the blackness of this comedy runs the gamut from the absurd to the upsetting. No topic is off limits.
I wanted to enjoy it, I really did, particularly because I very much wish The Blue Mountains had a theatre scene worthy of its seething creativity. However I struggled to muster warm and fuzzy feelings about attempts to make comedy out of pedophilia and bestiality, at least when such humour relied on sometimes shallow and stereotypical characters. I personally felt as though some of the subjects could have been treated with a little more subtlety or sensitivity, though I did chuckle a few times but more out of awkwardness than anything else. The audience around me seemed to enjoy sections of the story more than I did with a little good natured heckling happening from a few sides. Some of the performers incorporated it well in to their act, others seeming terrified that people had spoken up. The performers themselves got stronger as the evening went on, and I would expect continued improvement throughout the rest of the run.
It takes an incredible amount of energy and effort to put together any type of live performance and I hope to see much, much more created and performed in the Blue Mountains. The 8 Reindeer Monologues is a challenging piece of comedy, and I recommend going to see it with an extremely open mind.
Performance Dates in July Friday 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th Saturdays 7th, 14th 21st and 28th
Tickets from $40.
Leura Golf Course Sublime Point Rd Leura
For Bookings and More Information http://www.whatsantadid.com.au/tickets/