Based on true events, David Sedaris’ essay The Santaland Diaries is a hilarious account of his season as a Macy’s Christmas elf. It translates hilariously to the stage, especially on the Arts Club revue stage and voiced by Vancouver’s own Ryan Beil.
The tale begins with an out of work 30 something year old in New York City. Searching the classifieds and becoming pretty desperate, he comes across an advertisement for a job as one of Santa’s elves – at Macy’s. Desperation peaking, he goes in for an interview. What would be worse – getting the job or not getting the job? He, of course, lands the job and the following is a sometimes bitter, always hilarious journal of the New York man who later becomes an elf named Crumpet.
Once hired and fully immersed in elf culture, Crumpet begins to figure out what kinds of jobs he likes and which he doesn’t. Shuffling people out the door once they’ve had their picture taken with Santa is awkward for mild mannered Crumpet but worse is working the cash register and having to deal with impatient parents who find out their photos will be mailed to them in January. There were some heartwarming moments thrown in there too, as Crumpet describes his favorite of the Santa actors – the “Real Santa”.
Sedaris calls out customers and fellow elves alike and his snippet of life is really a universal rant for everyone who’s dealt with a crappy job (everyone). It is truly satisfying for those of us who have worked in customer service and even more satisfying for those of us who have worked in customer service at a toy store during the Christmas season. (If you’re wondering, I have).
Chronicling his first interview to the mayhem of Christmas Eve in Santaland, and every gritty little detail in between, was no small feat and Ryan Beil accomplished it masterfully. He dominated the audiences’ attention, using multi media touches to tell his story and seamlessly glided around the stage, changing sets and making us chuckle the whole time. He worked hard and it paid off. His impressions were perfectly in tune with the flow of the story and made you forget there was only one actor one stage. From the snotty gum-chewing customer to a devious, flirtatious elf to the strung-out, stress case manager, Ryan plays them all. Having a strong improv background (he is part of the Vancouver comedy troupe The Sunday Service – check them out!) Ryan’s sense of play was a treat to be a part of.
It might not be your traditional Christmas nativity pageant but it was certainly a refreshing and entertaining ride. The time flew by and before I knew it I was transported back to Granville Island, feeling ready to have some rum and egg nog and to brave my Christmas shopping list.
Originally selling out 21 shows, 8 extra dates have been added – click here to purchase tickets today!