Santaland Diaries a Misanthrope’s Delight

It’s Christmas time at Las Vegas’s best venue for alternative theater, the Onyx, which means a couple of interesting shows to choose from this month. There is no Nutcracker and no choir of carolers. Instead, the Onyx has chosen a couple of adaptations, one from a book and one from a film. “These are great shows for people looking for something in the holiday vein that doesn’t leave a heavy yuletide taste in the mouth,” Onyx artistic director Sirc Michaels says

 The book, David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries, was first out of the gate this month, taking a biting and satirical look at Christmas (what else would you expect from Sedaris?). Santaland is a one-man show, starring the very able Jamie Morris as a man who, on a whim, applies to be an elf in a Macy’s Christmas photo exhibit. Unfortunately for him, he gets the job. So is born the Crumpet the elf, who has to bear the weight of obnoxious tourists, more obnoxious kids and even more obnoxious parents.

Parents tell kids what to ask for. Parents try to work out their marital issues with Santa. One mother complains the store’s black Santa isn’t black enough. It’s as if Sedaris took this job just to torture himself for the story.

Director Christopher Kenney does a fine job of pacing and spacing, moving what could easily have become a static story around the stage to follow the different areas of Santaland Crumpet’s narrative. The set is such a convincing Macy’s Christmas display, they could have charged audience members an extra $10 to take pictures with Crumpet afterward.

Next on the docket for the Onyx Christmas shows is Santa Claus vs. The Martians based on the classic B-movie. With holiday entertainment often so rote, it’s a nice change of pace for those of us who would prefer to hear about a pissed-off department store elf rather than learn a valuable lesson.