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Review: Sedaris' "Santaland Diaries" at IndyFringe

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Santaland Diaries

3.5 stars

Cardinal Stage at IndyFringe Building; directed by Randy White. There's a wonderful publicity shot for Santaland Diaries that says everything about what I hoped this short play would be. Dressed as an elf in velvet, rick-rack and bells, Scot Greenwell lights a cigarette and sneers into the camera in a way that seems to say, "Sure, it's Christmas, but life still sucks and I'm still a jerk."

This adaptation of David Sedaris' essay about working as a Macy store elf isn't as darkly comic as the photo suggests, but it is still easy to enjoy an hour of Greenwell's sardonic descriptions of workers perky and grisly, parents and children who make or break Christmas posing for pictures on Santa's lap, and the author's personal fantasy, working in soap opera.

Bloomington's Cardinal Stage launched this adaptation from Joe Mantello last year with another actor and with his own short run in Bloomington before moving to Indy: Greenwell — a proven local talent — has just begun to tap all he could from this one-man performance. His impersonation of Billie Holiday singing for a terrified youngster begins to fathom the possibilities.

Through Dec.12; www.indyfringe.org; 721-9458.

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