Hart to hart: Reindeer tell all at LAB

Imagine this scenario: A scandal erupts at the North Pole when one of Jolly Old St. Nick's reindeer pals accuses him of sexual harassment. As the media investigate the alleged event, other members of the sleigh team demand to share their perspectives, and a horrific tale of corruption and perversion emerges, implicating everyone from the littlest elf to the tainted Saint himself. With each tiny deer's confession, the truth behind the shocking allegations becomes clearer and clearer… and murkier and murkier.
The Eight, a series of dark comic monologues now playing in the Live Arts LAB Space, pokes fun at a host of holiday icons. Originally created by Jeff Goode as part of his work with the Chicago chapter of No Shame Theater, the monologues were performed individually over a series of weeks. Eventually Goode collected the solo pieces into a somewhat cohesive whole and garnered a staged reading for the Hidden Theater during the holiday season in 1993.
"Almost ten years later, the show continues to grow in popularity as it shocks and delights audiences with its wickedly funny take on Christmas," says Todd Ristau, the show's artistic director.
This year The Eight opened in 26 cities around the world. "It's clear that by using the familiar iconography of Christmas– the season of peace, joy, and forgiveness– to unlock the devastating issues of child abuse, sexual assault, and workplace harassment, Goode has struck a resonant chord," Ristau contends.
The Charlottesville cast includes the well-known line-up of reindeer: Dasher, Cupid, Blitzen, Donner, Comet, Dancer, and Vixen plus the addition of Hollywood, played by Live Arts regular Clinton Johnston. The rest of the gang is brought to life by Michael Farrand, Kristopher Jones, Melissa Ketola, Michael Morris, Jade Catta-Preta, Greg Hays, and Jacklyn DiLauro. Ristau plays nearly all the other roles: set designer, lighting designer, costume designer, and sound designer.
The play is dark. "It's really not suitable for children," Ristau warns. But if you're up for a little bawdy fun after the tree's been trimmed and the stockings are hung, spend the evening with this gang of potty-mouthed animal friends. You'll likely never think of Rudolph and his red nose in quite the same way again.

The Eight plays Wednesdays-Sundays through December 22. Live Arts LAB Space, 609 E. Market St. 8pm generally with 2pm Sunday matinees. $5-7. 977-4177.