Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gotta Love Sedaris

This is for all of my HTAC friends (and you know who you are), as well as any others interested in the theater, or laughing out loud.  I have copied some brief snippets from David Sedaris, humorist extraordinaire, from his collection of short stories and essays, Holidays On Ice.  I have no interest in being sued for transcribing his hilarious text here on this post, so I will state categorically that my sole intention in reprinting these excerpts is to drive sales of Mr. Sedaris’ books and related products.  I expect and anticipate no personal financial gain.

In the following excerpts, Sedaris is reviewing local elementary school plays in the style of a snobby, unforgiving New York Times theater critic, and the results are nothing short of solid gold:

“The approach of Christmas signifies three things: Bad movies, unforgiveable television, and even worse theater.  I’m talking bone-crushing theater, the type of our ancient ancestors used to oppress their enemies before the invention of the stretching rack.  We’re talking torture on par with the Scottsfield Dinner Theater’s 1994 revival of Come Blow Your Horn, a production that violated every tenet of the Human Rights Accord.  To those of you who enjoy the comfort of a nice set of thumbscrews, allow me to recommend any of the crucifying holiday plays and pageants currently eliciting screams of mercy from within the confines of our local elementary and middle schools…

“The Story of the First Christmas” is an overrated clunker of a holiday pageant, best left to those looking to cure their chronic insomnia.  Although the program listed no director, the apathetic staging suggested the limp, partially paralyzed hand of Sister Mary Elizabeth Bronson, who should have been excommunicated after last season’s disastrous Thanksgiving program…

“In the role of Mary, six year old Shannon Burke just barely manages to pass herself off as a virgin.  A cloying, preening stage presence, her performance seemed based on nothing but an annoying proclivity toward lifting her skirt and, on rare occasions, opening her eyes.  As Joseph, second grade student Douglas Trazzare needed to be reminded that, although his character did not technically impregnate the virgin mother, he should behave as though he were capable of doing so.”

Another review:

“Once again the sadists at the Jane Snow-Hernandez Middle School have taken up their burring pokers in an attempt to prod “A Christmas Carol” into some form of submission.  I might have overlooked the shoddy production values and dry, leaden pacing, but these are sixth graders we are talking about and they should have known better…

“Most of the blame goes to the director, eleven year old Becky Michaels, who seems to have picked up her staging secrets from the school’s crossing guard.  She tends to clump her actors, moving them only in groups of five or more.  A strong proponent of racially mixed casting, Michaels gives us a black Tiny Tim, leaving the audience to wonder, “What, is this kid adopted?”  It’s a distracting move, pointless and wrongheaded.

“The set was not without its charm but Jodi Lennon’s abysmal costumes should hopefully mark the end of a short and unremarkable career.  I was gagging from the smell of spray-painted sneakers and if I see one more top hat made from an oatmeal canister, I swear I’m going to pull out a gun.”

And finally, part of his analysis of the production, “A Reindeer’s Gift”:

“By the time the boy returns the reindeer (played by a lumbering, disobedient Great Dane the program lists as “Marmaduke II”) to Santa’s custody, we no longer care whether the animal lives or dies.  I was just happy he was hustled off stage before his digestive system could process and void the eighteen pounds of popcorn it took to keep the great beast from wandering off before his cue…

“The only bright spot of the entire evening was the presence of Kevin “Tubby” Matchwell, the eleven year old porker who tackled the role of Santa with beguiling authenticity.  The false beard tended to muffled his speech, but they could hear his chafing thighs all the way to the North Pole.  Still, though, the overwrought production tended to mirror the typical holiday meal in that even the Butterball can’t save the day when it’s packed with too much stuffing.”

Special shout out to my sister for bringing this material to my attention.

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