By David Sedaris
Directed by Juergen K. Tossman

A review by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2011 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.

Ted Lesley in The Santaland Diaries
Photo courtesy of Bunbury Theatre.

Let me tell you what makes good theater: when a well-established company combines a well-crafted script with an exuberant lead actor and throws in a charming set. Bunbury Theatre has hit the mark with its one-man holiday show, The Santaland Diaries. With a script taken directly from humorist David Sedaris’s essay of the same name, this one-man one-act delves into the horrors a seasonal Macy employee faced as he worked as an elf.

As the elf, Ted Lesley brings his top performance to the stage. His ninety-minute monologue is a conversation with the audience as he delightfully expresses Sedaris’s comments, complaints and contemplations about working in a department store during the busiest shopping time of the year. The first-person narration starts with Lesley’s character in desperate need of a job and jokingly applying for the seasonal position. Soon, he finds himself in two interviews, training, costume fittings and eventually, Santaland.

Lesley’s personification of Sedaris’s wit was made stronger as he pushed through the show’s technical fumbles. Gracefully and innocently ignoring the opening night lighting and sound cue kinks, Lesley didn’t let anything get in the way of the hilarity. Delivering high energy while literally being the only character on stage for an hour and a half, Lesley deserves much applause. It takes a strong actor to be able to latch on to a text that is rich in word play and keep the audience interested for the duration of the performance. And this actor was most definitely that. Whether you’re an elf or know an elf, The Santaland Diaries at Bunbury Theatre provides lots of laughs for the Holiday season.

The Santaland Diaries
December 7-18
Bunbury Theatre
at the Henry Clay
604 S. Third St.
Louisville, KY
(502) 585-5306