“Santaland Diaries” at Seattle Public Theater

David Sedaris is our nation’s preeminent living humorist, leaving aside Woody Allen, and “Santaland Diaries” is considered his funniest monologue. It’s a holiday standard on NPR that has been adapted for the stage, and now Patrick Lennon plays the David role in Seattle Public Theatre’s production, directed by Kelly Kitchens.

Poor David, unemployed in New York City at Christmas, is willing to take almost any job. What he gets wouldn’t necessarily be anyone’s first choice…playing an elf at Macy’s annual Christmas extravaganza. Yet, in order to get this humbling assignment, he has to endure a demoralizing and pretentious interview process, and, while the application process was demeaning, the job itself is humiliating. He and all the other elves must dress up in ridiculous costumes and prance around Santaland wearing a happy face as they lead and amuse the restless children and their cranky parents until they eventually arrive at Santa, himself. All the time, the elves cope with the children’s stomach upsets, bathroom needs, and other untoward emergencies.

There’s no substitute for Sedaris, but Patrick Lennon does well at capturing the Sedaris way of speaking in exclamation points. He rolls out all the jokes, sarcastic observations about human frailty, and caustic advice for coping with holiday chaos with the seriousness of a judge and the hauteur of royalty. And that’s just the right way to emphasize the humor of it all.

The production team has chosen minimalist staging that emphasizes but doesn’t overwhelm the monologue. It’s a one-act bit of frivolity to remind you that insanity at holiday time is to be expected, so just laugh and make the most of it.

Through December 24 at Seattle Public Theatre at the Bathhouse, 7312 W. Greenlake Drive N, Seattle, (206 524-1300 or www.seattlepublictheatre.org)

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