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Theater review: 'The Santaland Diaries' at the Stella Adler

December 2, 2010 | 11:30 am

Santa photo

Those who didn’t get a chance to see David Sedaris’ “The Santaland Diaries” during last season’s sell-out at the 2nd Stage, take heart.  The production is being reprised at the more commodious Stella Adler space, where tickets will, one hopes, be more readily available. If you’d like a bracing dash of bitters at this sticky-sweet time of year, you might want to belly up and drink in the fun.

Sedaris’ hilarious account about his experiences working as a Macy’s elf, which first aired on NPR in 1992, vaulted Sedaris to bestselling prominence.  Joe Mantello’s adaptation preserves the lip-puckering dryness of the original radio essay, which takes us to the dark side of Macy’s Santaland, where massive egos clash behind the scenes and frustrated parents, waiting in endless lines, throw soiled diapers into the glistening snow.

This autobiographical monologue is, of course, a one-man show, and Nicholas Brendon, re-creating the role of Crumpet the Elf from last year’s Blank Theatre Company production, is just the one man for the job.  Even though Brendon occasionally skids into the overly cutesy, for the most part he’s spot-on, a latter-day Puck who drolly recounts just what fools these mortals can be –- especially when their shopping days are dwindling down to zero.

Under the effortless guidance of director Michael Matthews, Brendon prances about Kurt Boetcher’s appropriately cheesy set clad in gloriously gaudy holiday regalia, courtesy of costume designer Michael Mullen (who might want to rethink that troublesome zipper on Brendon’s elf suit).  If you’re in the mood to get goofy and giggle, don’t deprive yourself of this holiday treat.

-- F. Kathleen Foley

“The Santaland Diaries,” Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood.  8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays.  Ends Dec. 19.  $30. (323) 661-9827.  Running time:  1 hour, 20 minutes.

Photo: Nicholas Brendon. Credit:  Rick Baumgartner