Will Bethmann as the store elf Crumpet in "The Santaland Diaries." Photo by Simpatika
, David Sedaris’ 1996 essay “The Santaland Diaries” has lived on because of the one-act play adapted from it by Joe Mantello. Because the story of Sedaris’ hapless and exasperating experience of being an elf at Macy’s doesn’t really date (in spite of the diminishing status of brick-and-mortar department stores), it’s still possible to wring laughter out of his wry, sometimes-spiteful reminiscences onstage.
Will Bethmann does just that at Diversionary Theatre, where Anthony Methvin directs a swift (one hour in length) and spry “The Santaland Diaries.” For the audience, this is grin-and-chuckle rather than chortle-and-guffaw material. The narrative would probably be just as effective were Sedaris himself standing there reading his essay. Still, Bethmann works hard for every grin and chuckle he gets, and they add up quickly in such a short show.
Note: Get yourself photographed with Santa Claus before the performance.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.