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David Sedaris: Grinch? 

Wednesday, Dec 12 2007
Forget the nutcrackers, the miracles on 42nd Street, and other seasonal boilerplates. Instead, celebrate some good old-fashioned holiday angst. David Sedaris's The SantaLand Diaries and Season's Greetings dispense with the Christmas niceties and hit a little closer to home, commenting on the rampant consumerism and family dysfunction that tend to characterize the holidays. Sedaris — a Spalding Gray for the Gen-X and everything after set — consistently produces scathingly funny autobiographies, full of ill-humored witticisms on the kookiness of the mundane life. Joe Mantello's cult stage version of The SantaLand Diaries is based on Sedaris's own account of being a Christmas elf at Macy's, and it bravely countermands the seasonal treacle of peace and goodwill to all. The show's complete with an ornery Santa Claus, snot-nosed kids, and acerbic, catty observations hailing from a foul-mouthed, down-on-his-luck soap opera writer (played by David Sinaiko), a.k.a. Crumpet the Elf. Season's Greetings similarly pokes at the Christmas spirit's underbelly; in it, local improv luminary Gerri Lawlor plays an annoyingly chipper housewife recounting the year's many curveballs, including an unexpected visit from her husband's illegitimate Vietnamese daughter. Through brilliant digressions, Sedaris's pieces uncover the disappointments and miscommunications that relentlessly haunt holiday hubbub. And in spite of the snark, it's hard to watch them without feeling a sense of commiseration with misanthropic underdogs everywhere.
Dec. 19-30, 8 p.m., 2007

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Nirmala Nataraj


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