Saturday, December 08, 2007

Santa Land Diaries

‘SANTALAND DIARIES’ a pleasant holiday escape at CPT

David Sedaris, author of ‘THE SANTALAND DIARIES, which is getting its umpteenth local production, this time at Cleveland Public Theatre, credits his fame to the attention he got when he read his “SantaLand” essay on National Public Radio.

In 2001, Sedaris was selected to receive the Thurber Prize for American Humor and was named by Time magazine as “Humorist of the Year.” He is the author of the best selling ‘NAKED’ and ‘ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY,’ both collections of his personal life experiences.

‘THE SANTALAND DIARIES’ is a one-man show which is supposedly a true account of Sedaris’ stint as an elf at Macy’s department store in New York. First read as an on-air essay on December 23, 1992, the material was reworked into a play in 1996 by Joe Mantello. It has since become a staple of the holiday season on both professional and amateur stages.

Under the direction of B. D. Bethune, Cleveland Public Theatre’s production, which stars Doug Kusak, is a pleasant evening of theatre.

Kusak has a mobile face, a good sense of comic timing, nicely underplays the role and is generally delightful as Crumpet, the elf in green velvet smock and red and white stockings. He interacts well with the audience, without making anyone uncomfortable. His highlights are a Billie Holliday interpretation of “Away in the Manger,” and his compassionate final speech when he relates a tale of what may be his working with the “real” Santa Claus.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: If you are in the holiday mood, and can put up with another jolt of festive cheer, Cleveland Public Theatre’s ‘SANTA LAND DIARIES’ will entertain you.