herald

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Here's to your elf

It's a holly, jolly Christmas miracle at Macy’s. Not! Something’s rotten in the state of Santaland, and it ain’t just the crotches of the elf uniforms. The Santaland Diaries, written by American humorist David Sedaris, is based on his personal experience as a 33-year-old starving artist turned Santaland elf. The result is a snippy, blackly comic trip into a world of snarling, weary service employees who just want to clock off and get paid.

The show begins with the rigours of the 'elf application process' and by the time our hero reaches the Infernal Adagio that is Christmas Eve, his shallow pool of goodwill has been well and truly exhausted. Frustration, personal ignominy, bizarre traits of workmates, the ongoing derangement of dealing with The Public, obsessive parents, six-year-old models/actresses all take their seasonal toll.

There are laughs aplenty in this scatological dismembering of the consumerist Christmas and its attendant faux-joviality. While the text is specifically rooted in the US version of Yuletide overkill, our recent exposures to the excess of Celtic Tiger Christmases Past sees the script ring as true on Grafton Street as on 34th Street. The packed house in Bewley's Café Theatre warmed instantly to Patrick O'Donnell as he brought the sharp, bitchy text gleefully alive, in full velvet and candystripe.

Be warned, though, with lines such as "you're a fucking elf and you'll wear the fucking panties!", this show isn't for the kiddies. But for those adults who fancy a salty dip below the saccharine surface of Christmas veneer, this is a very good bet indeed. An ideal antidote to city-centre stress during the coming seasonal frenzy. Take a moment, get off your feet and treat yourself to a merry old time indeed!

The Santaland Diaries is at Bewley's Café Theatre, 1.10pm, Monday to Saturday, until December 20th. Ticket includes light lunch.

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