Encore Michigan

Kickshaw rings in holiday with Santaland Diaries

Review December 14, 2019 Encore Staff

By Angela Colombo

YPSILANTI, Mich.–Picking up work to make a few extra bucks during the holidays is not uncommon. However working as an elf in Macy’s Santaland gives the term “seasonal help” a new meaning.

The Santaland Diaries, based on David Sedaris’ humorous and autobiographical essays, shows us what happens when you mix retail hell and theatrical shenanigans with parents on a mission for the perfect holiday photo proving their touristy prowess, and children often thwarting these very goals. Throw in a variety of Santa personalities and you have this wry, witty satire that has become a holiday tradition in many places. Be ready for some well-deserved belly laughs at this Kickshaw production.

Yianni Papadimos plays David, and does the funny, wry holiday story proud.  Having just arrived to NYC three weeks prior to pursue an acting career, unemployed with not a lot of options, “David” applies for the job of elf at NYC’s Macy’s. What’s worse than being a 33-year-old man applying for a job as an elf, he asks? The idea that he might not get hired.  But after treating us to some more self-deprecating jokes, David says, he hears the magic words from the hiring manager, “sir, you are an elf,” and the naughtiness begins.

When the show opens, out bounces Crumpet, a happy fellow dressed in a green, velvet, buttoned-down smock trimmed with little red pom poms and candy cane striped leggings. A red velvet jester’s crown with four spangled prongs sits on Crumpet’s head.  David says he aspired to be “a low key sort of elf.”  But Macy’s had other plans for him, we learn when he takes us through elf training, showing us just what it takes.  Papadimos gives us an energetic and wide-eyed Crumpet who also has no problem pointing out with an eye roll and a sarcastic pitch the absurdities holiday helpers contend with. We can’t help but laugh at the hilarity, but we also come away with an appreciation for what seasonal workers put up with.

David Sedaris made his comic debut on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and can often be heard on the NPR’s This American Life. Sedaris is known for his sardonic wit and incisive social critiques. He is the author of books and personal essays and has become one of America’s pre-eminent humorists/storytellers.

Santaland Diaries, adapted by Joe Mantello and directed by Lynn Lammers is playing at the Kickshaw Theatre in Ypsilanti, Friday’s through Sundays. There are seven more performances through Dec. 22.

Week of 8/10/2020

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