Thursday, December 17, 2015

reviews - THE SANTALAND DIARIES - Arizona Theatre Company

Ron May
photo: John Groseclose
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this productions which runs through December 23rd.

"...Based on an essay by humorist David Sedaris detailing his time working as an elf in SantaLand at Macy’s department store, The SantaLand Diaries... adapted by actor/director Joseph Mantello..Sedaris is here played by one of the valley’s most constantly interesting local talents, Ron May, as he tells of discovering what he terms as the most frightening job opportunity he’d ever had in his life – a Christmas elf at Macy’s at the age of thirty-four...With David Ira Goldstein at the helm...it’s a performance fueled by nerves. Constantly mopping his brow and taking sips of water throughout the ninety minutes, the actor enters the stage looking like a panicky comedian auditioning for a spot behind the mic. That sense of anxiety never leaves...he’s trapped in a nightmare world of fake snow, twinkly lights and demanding mothers taking family selfies with Santa, and Christmas Eve is still a long way off. Sedaris’ diary of accounts is, for the most part, more amusing than hilarious, but there are some big laughs..." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

Well-known humorist and author David Sedaris got his first big break back in the early 1990s when he spoke on NPR about his miserable, real-life experience working as an elf at Macy's Santaland. ...Arizona Theatre Company is presenting a well-directed production of Sedaris' humorous tale starring Ron May who does well in delivering Sedaris' snarky persona. It results in a biting holiday remedy that is a perfect counterpoint to the dozens of saccharine sweet Christmas theatrical offerings around town. ...  From overeager children to demanding parents and even some innocent foreigners who have just wandered into the wrong line by accident, these moments make up the bulk of the play and are where Sedaris and May excel in showing us the true nature of individuals who are just trying to get through the holidays. The Santaland Diaries is more of a character study than a full-fledged play, with an ending that hints at happiness but pulls back in delivering anything remotely cheery. May's natural sly appeal works well in delivering Sedaris' tart and comical observations, though there are hints of sweetness and vulnerability beneath his well-mannered delivery—but just a few...He also works well to ensure the part becomes that of an "every man" who is familiar to anyone who took a job because they were desperate or who has had to deal with irate customers. Director David Ira Goldstein's clear direction keeps May's performance truthful and never over the top and manic, thereby retaining the realism of the piece. ...The Santaland Diaries is perfect counter programming for anyone who is looking for a theatrical holiday alternative. Depicting crude yet honest experiences, it may highlight more of the cynicism of the holidays, especially in how it brings out the best and the worst in people, but there is an ember of seasonal warmth burning inside Crumpet's heart—underneath that ugly, green felt costume."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"... the wacky “Santaland Diaries,”... Ron May plays with mocking abandonment an out-of-work guy who lands a job as an elf at Macy’s..Playwright David Sedaris’ clever script...relates the tediously repetitious remarks that spew forth from every kid visiting Santa but he also hammers the parents hypocrisy and obsession with the visits. ...May bounds about the stage in his outrageous costume explaining how repetitious each day becomes. ...“The Santaland Diaries” is a fast paced 85 minutes of zany chatter that showcases May’s comic genius and that Goldstein stages the frenzied comic delight." --Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

"...“The SantaLand Diaries,” David Sedaris’ hilarious essay on working as a costumed elf at Macy’s department store in New York. Doing the one-man-show honors is Ron May...resulting in a gruff-and-tumble — one might even say crotchety — take on the material. Filled with wry observations...“SantaLand” is filled with laughs, including several R-rated ones, but May doesn’t quite create a fully fleshed character that would make the show his own. But seeing him looking absolutely ridiculous in an elf suit is worth the price of admission."  - Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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