TheatreWorks’ production of David Sedaris’ sarcastic show, The Santaland Diaries, is fabulous. If you’re not already familiar with the one-man show, Max Tachis performs a great version of the offbeat holiday comedy. If you already know the show, it’s a delightful, more optimistic version of the script.
The Santaland Diaries is a one-man show, telling the story of a young comedian working as an elf for Santa in New York’s Macy’s Department Store. Based on Sedaris’ own experiences, the play follows one guy from auditioning for the job to working retail with both over and under enthusiastic coworkers and customers. Sedaris’ acerbic wit shines throughout the production but so does Tachis’ more hopeful spirit.
Tachis is great in the role. He brings a naughty-but-sweet quality to the stage, despite the character’s nearly-constant drinking. The other production of this show reviewed on this site, was a bitter and biting critique of the holiday season in many places. TheatreWorks’ production takes the same script and instead makes it a lighter comedy poking fun at the Christmas season rather than attacking it outright. It’s not going to appeal as much to the Scrooges of the world, but it was more fun.
There are a few additions to point out that are unique to this production. The most noticeable is the use of a puppet in certain scenes. The puppet is a cute and clever tool to make certain conversations between multiple people more clear. It’s a nice addition that easily clarifies moments in the show that could be otherwise tricky. It’s an elegant solution to a common problem with one-man shows.
The show is not quite as finely tuned as TheatreWorks’ other holiday show this year, Around the World in 80 Days. It is more catered to an adult audience, however. If you’re looking for a holiday show that’s funny, boozy and teasing, The Santaland Diaries fits the bill.
TheaterWorks’ production of The Santaland Diaries is playing at the Lohman Theater, 12345 S. El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, now through December 23, 2017. Tickets range from $20 - $45. This show is not suitable for young children.
Photos courtesy of Kevin Berne