The Christmas Monologues

The Wine Cellar, St Kevins Arcade (K Rd), Auckland

20/12/2009 - 22/12/2009

Production Details

‘The day of reckoning is here’

Christmas! What a wonderful time of year.

You’ve got your carols, you’ve got your Christmas trees, you’ve got your tinsel, you’ve got your family gatherings, you’ve got your rigid timetables, you’ve got your geriatric relations alone in their hospice, you’ve got diseased turkey on the bone, you’ve got lascivious elves, you’ve got your revengeful tree decorators, you’ve got your stringent religious practices, and you’ve got your sweatshop made Christmas crackers . . .

The Christmas Monologues are a series of stories dealing with the dark and macabre of a holiday we all cherish. Have a merry Christmas because it might be your last . . .

Starring: Dwayne Cameron, Megan Herd, Cherie James, Dena Kennedy, Renee Lyons, Roberto Nascimento and Sarah Valentine

SEASON: Dec 20 – 22 @ 8pm (Dec 20 Extra Show at 6pm)
WHERE: THE WINE CELLAR – 183 K’Road (St Kevin’s Arcade)
TICKETS: $15 (Adults) $12 (Students)

‘Festive fun meets the Twilight Zone’

Review by Joanna Davies 21st Dec 2009

’Tis the season for monologues. It seems everyone has something to say this Christmas, and they’re doing it one-by-one. At the beginning of the month it was the slick, in-your-face, reality-show styled Christ Almighty. Now it’s Tom Sainsbury’s The Christmas Monologues.

In the intimate theatre space an assortment of characters share their Christmas-related tales. We start with Becky (Roberto Nascimento), an elf in Santa’s grotto who has more interest in getting grotty with Santa than anything else. Roberto’s portrayal of a hair-flicking, torso-baring wannabe actress/model is disarmingly spot-on.

Cherie James gives us Leigh McIntyre, a seemingly meek Christmas decorator with her own business. Bar a few script stumbles on opening night, James gives a commanding performance transforming seamlessly from Leigh to the other characters in her tale, and back. Hers is by far the best-developed story line with a logical structure that helps make the character all the more sympathetic.

Sarah Valentine’s Chrissy the Christmas Cracker Queen is vivacious, enthusiastic, and initially warm and likeable – until her dark side is revealed. Valentine relishes her terribly un-PC “kiwi-made” cracker mogul role and her sweatshop makes me sweat at the thought of the “made in China” labels on presents I’ve wrapped for under the tree.

The most poignant tale of the collection is Juanita Smith’s (Megan Herd), a solo mother of twins who spends her Christmas Day working as a nurse in a rest home. Herd’s Juanita is warm, compassionate and sympathetic. Given the time of year the entire audience related easily to her exhaustion – and to her choice of gift for the patients.

Christmas is a busy time for turkey farmers as Dwayne Cameron’s monologue à la Murray Ball-with-botulism illustrates. A lot can go wrong when your year’s income depends on one day’s demand, you have neighbours complaining about the stink, your pigs escape and the animal rights inspectors on your doorstep. This is waste-not-want-not territory in the extreme, delivered with avian passion and more than a dash of psycho.

Finally, relative new-comer Renee Lyons ends the show by reminding us what Christmas is all about and casting aspersions on consumerism and the exploitation of the season of goodwill. And she does it with a twist. Lyon’s character, Ruth, is a born-again Christian with a martyred holier-than-thou attitude. The Good Book really is her bible and she thinks nothing of bending man’s law to uphold God’s. She’s mad and marvellous (especially when praying for her forgotten lines) and deserves to go far as an actor.

While The Christmas Monologues is thoroughly enjoyable and attention-grabbing, it isn’t without its flaws. To start with, nothing connects the monologues. There’s a loose sense of a support group scenario as the actors call out encouragement to each other, but we don’t know how they’ve come together.

The audience is lost on occasion due to gaps and leaps in the stories and it seems their timelines need reviewing. While a “no, wait…” style may be acceptable when a friend recounts their tale, it’s not acceptable in a monologue and allows me to drift too often. A half-day script workshop would work wonders.

I’d love to see this ‘festive fun meets the Twilight Zone’ work again for Christmas 2010.
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Cherie James December 21st, 2009

I'm wondering if you've misconstrued 'Leigh McIntyre's' hesitancy, desire for support and search for strands of her story as the actor stumbling over the script and searching for lines....?

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