Chicago Theatre Review
‘Santaland’ Snark Returns to Theater Wit
By Devlyn Camp
He takes a shot, sits back on his stool and says, “I am not David Sedaris.” Mitchell Fain has returned to Theatre Wit again with The Santaland Diaries, based on the story by Sedaris. To any readers unfamiliar with the work, in the story, Sedaris explains being so hard up for cash that he once became an elf in the New York City Macy’s store. Upon joining Santaland, Sedaris learned all the ins and outs of the magical world, slave-whipping Santas, and racist mothers. In a time when most anyone understands the need for a job, we can understand the desperate measures David had to reach. Fain even points out that just down the street there’s a donut shop parking lot in which two people dressed as a donut and coffee are dancing to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” But perhaps David had sunk even lower.
In a stand-up style form of storytelling before a red curtain, it seems to readers of the book Holidays on Ice that the original is funnier in its text form. Once Fain gets suited up for work, though, it only gets better. In a green elf suit, an unshaven beard, and a middle finger in the spotlight, Fain hits joke after joke without coming up for air. Knowing he’s at the very bottom, it’s just plain fun to criticize everyone down there with him. Explaining the disturbing behind-the-scenes world of odd department store elfin policies might sound like I’m describing some sort of Macy’s exposé, but it’s just a one-act, one-man play making fun of really dumb people. And isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
THE SANTALAND DIARIES
Through December 31st
Tickets $18-55, available at theaterwit.org
Contact critic at firstname.lastname@example.org