The Santaland Diaries is a semi-autobiographical account of Sedaris's time as an elf in Santaland at Macy's. "Crumpet" (Brandy Joe Plambeck) leads the audience through application, training, the busy days, the down time, the perfect families, the cringe-worthy families, all the way through to Christmas Eve. Season's Greetings is something completely different: a Holiday letter from a suburban housewife - Jocelyn Dunbar (Joe Bailey) - detailing the particularly eventful last few months of the year.
Both Joes are absolutely fantastic. Sure - this is a show they have been doing annually for seven years now, so they know their way around these characters, but the work done by each is just so indicative of each actor's charm and outright ability to own a stage. Brandy Joe Plambeck is adorable as the cynical elf, with a sense of mischief and genuine joy that is impossible not to get swept up in. The performance is a little messy around the edges, but that ends up being part of the charm of the piece, making Plambeck even more approachable in his impishness.
And though I loved Plambeck, Joe Bailey's careful, simple, nuanced turn as Jocelyn Dunbar blew me away. He manipulates his mask of blue eye shadow, impossibly expressive cheekbones and huge drawn-on lips with exceptional dexterity, speaking volumes with the slightest movement. And where Santaland pulls us in with its fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants looseness, Greetings draws us in with its precision. Bailey is mesmerizing, hilarious, and even eventually unsettling...without ever getting out of that chair.
Holiday traditions are great fun... and this is definitely one you don't want to miss out on! You've only got three more opportunities this year, so get out there for your annual recommended dose of holiday hijinks. And Merry Freakin' Christmas!
The Santaland Diaries and Season's Greetings by David Sedaris (David/Crumpet: Brandy Joe Plambeck; Jocelyn Dunbar: Joe Bailey) plays through Monday, December 23 at The Ringwald Theatre. For more information, visit http://www.theringwald.com/.