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Some other reasons for the season

MET's production of 'Santaland' offers sarcastic take on holiday rush

MET's production of 'Santaland' offers sarcastic take on holiday rush

December 04, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

FREDERICK, Md. -- 'Tis the season for screaming babies, long lines and parking lot stalking, said Rona Mensah, star of the Maryland Ensemble Theatre's production of "The Santaland Diaries."

"Santaland" opens Friday night at Maryland Ensemble Theatre and will run weekends through Saturday, Jan. 3.

Mensah is cast as Crumpet the Elf, one of the mall workers flanking Santa during Christmastime. Mensah, who lives in Frederick, is an Ensemble Member and an on-air radio personality on KEY 103.

While we'd like to think the holidays bring out the best in everyone, "Santaland" suggests it might be bringing out something else. If you're detecting sarcasm, it's because the play was written by super-cynic David Sedaris, the humorist and author known for his sardonic musings.

Sedaris has said in interviews and in his own writings that "Santaland" drew from his stint as a Macy's elf in New York City.

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The play is a character study told entirely through Crumpet as a one-person show. MET staged the play a few years ago, which was the first time Mensah had seen the play.

"My gut reaction was, 'How do you get yourself into a situation like that -- being an elf -- and write a play about it?'" she said.

In most productions, Crumpet is treated as a male character. The MET followed protocol in its prior production, Mensah said, but this year, Crumpet is a lady.

As a result, one section of the play had to get cut because it referenced a guy-guy gay joke involving Crumpet, "which really wouldn't have made sense," Mensah said, since Crumpet is female.

Crumpet's gender switch aside, not much is different. Mensah said the play still presents the same message to audiences and might inspire some introspection.

"I hope they (audiences) see the absurdity of it, and see themselves in it," Mensah said. "I also hope they see the good and simple thing about the season, that there still is a joy to the season."




If you go ...



WHAT: "The Santaland Diaries," presented by Maryland Ensemble Theatre

WHEN: Opening night, 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5. Shows continue weekends through Saturday, Jan. 3, go to www.marylandensemble.org for the full schedule.

WHERE: Maryland Ensemble Theatre, 31 W. Patrick St., Frederick, Md.

COST: $15, plus $1.50 handling fee.

MORE: For more information or to buy tickets, call 301-694-4744 or go to www.marylandensemble.org.

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