Satirist David Sedaris recounts his true-life experiences working as a Christmas elf in Macy's in the irreverent one-man show The Santaland Diaries. Produced here by the Alley Theatre for the third year in a row, the comedy features company member Todd Waite as the Sedaris character, Crumpet the Elf.
The much put-upon Sedaris is less than jolly when he applies for the job. He had arrived in the Big Apple thinking he would soon be hobnobbing with stars and important people who would fawn over him and repeatedly tell him to get used to being the center of attention. When that didn't happen, Sedaris was faced with the reality of picking up odd jobs to pay the rent. He tries to cheer himself up, saying that as a Macy's elf he'll be a part of something greater than himself - until December 26, that is. "I figure at least as an elf I'll have a place," Crumpet says onstage. "I'll be in Santa's village with all the other elves. We'll live in a fluffy wonderland surrounded by candy canes and gingerbread shacks."
It's not quite like that, though. There are rules in Santaland, regulations, costume requirements and, above all, the expectations of cheerfulness. "I think I'll be a low-key sort of elf," Crumpet says sourly. But there aren't any positions for low-key elves. There are Oh my God elves (elves who calm parents down when they see the incredibly long line to see Santa and invariably say, "Oh my God!"), entrance elves, photo elves, cash register elves and even emergency exit elves, but none of them are low-key. Crumpet can't hide his dwindling holiday spirit, and he's demoted from one elf position to another, all the while wondering at the gullible, mindless herds of people who trample through the artificial Santaland.
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"Even if people believed in...Santa, why would they believe he lived in a department store? Nobody lives in a department store," grumbles the dejected Crumpet. (Alley company member Paul Hope will appear as Crumpet December 8 to 11.) Previews performances are November 21 to 22. Opening night is November 23. 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 6 and 9 p.m. Fridays; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Through December 31. 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit www.alleytheatre.org. $21 to $44.
Tuesdays-Sundays; Mon., Dec. 27. Starts: Nov. 21. Continues through Dec. 31, 2010