Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Santaland Diaries

Photo/Jennifer Maufrais Kelly

When I think of David Sedaris's icily hilarious The Santaland Diaries, I don't leap at the chance to put that up on stage: the audio book is already so cool and precise that such an adaptation seems pointless. And if I did yearn for one man to caustically belittle Macy's Santaland exhibit, it wouldn't be Joe Mantello's sensationalism that I turned to. (The guy turned even the natural drama of Blackbird into a Hollywood-lit play.) And yet, that's the production Jason Podplesky is directing for The Gallery Players, and the result is predictably commercial: it runs smoothly from joke to joke to joke, but when it suddenly ends, you're left craving so much more -- not because you enjoyed yourself, but because you're unsatisfied. B. Brian Argotsinger, who plays David, seems uncomfortable imitating Sedaris's light voice, and is therefore a good fit for the play, which constantly abandons the high-class disdain of the book in favor of the sort of boisterous vocal impersonations found in stand-up dive bars. The final product is all the worse off for being passably funny: it is the junk food of theater.

[Read on] [Also blogged by: Patrick]

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