OA: Santa’s disgruntled helper December 19, 2008

The Santaland Diaries’ tells the story of Crumpet the elf

James Garland considered wearing his elf costume to the mall just to see what would happen.

Much to his disappointment, Mesa Mall doesn’t really have elves.

Not like the kind in “The Santaland Diaries,” a one-man play about department store Santas, their helpers and the parents and children who drive them insane.

Garland plays Crumpet the mall elf in the play made famous in 1992 by satirist and best selling writer David Sedaris, who read an excerpt from his essay on NPR. The stage show, adapted by Joe Mantello, is performed everywhere from high school talent shows to sold out theaters.

“The Santaland Diaries” is about a 30-something-year-old man’s experience working at Macy’s SantaLand, a mecca for screaming kids and all things candy cane colored. A place where Christmas is most definitely commercial and Christmas spirit is debatable.

The Two Chairs Theater Company’s run of “The Santaland Diaries” continues this weekend with shows on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 19–20, at the KAFM Community Radio’s Radio
Room, 1310 Ute Ave.

The only things on stage with Garland in “The Santaland Diaries” are a chair and a table.

“If I go blank, I’m on my own,” Garland said. “But I love the energy of it.”

Garland is an original founder of the theater company and the associate artistic director. He’s mostly behind the scenes directing. His last appearance was in “The Quality of Mercy.”

He said he recently felt an itch to start performing again. Garland graduated from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and has appeared in over 40 productions, according to his biography.

Joe Wilcox directs “The Santaland Diaries.”

Garland doesn’t have firsthand experience at being a mall elf, but he did work in customer service, kind of the same thing.

Believers in the real Jolly Old Elf need not attend, especially young children. The play has adult humor.


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