REVIEWSTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

The Santaland Diaries 2013


By David Sadaristheater wit

Adapted by Joe Mantello

Directed by Jeremy Wechsler

Staring Mitchell Fain

At Theater Wit, Chicago

Hilarious turn by Mitchell Fain as the Elf is a “can’t miss” holiday treat!

It has been a few years since I’ve seen The Santaland Diaries. I was particularly impressed as how Mitchell Fain both commands the stage and how he personalizes the story without making drastic changes to David Sedaris’ script. One only has to witness Fain’s opening to see a master comic and a terrific actor doing his craft. Fain’s skill at engaging and audience with his crude but very human honesty. There may be others who can play “Crumpet, the elf” but no one humanizes the cynical character as does the sharp-tongued Mitchell Fain. He is a majot comic talent at the top of his craft.

theater wit

Theater Wit’s The Sanataland Diaries has become a holiday favorite for those who want some biting satirical humor to get them into the spirit of the holidays.  David Sedaris’ hilarious story about a 40 something fail actor desperate for work finds himself one of Macy’s elf’s in NYC. Fain’s sarcastic tone fuels his self deprecating story that produces many laughs.

Fain combines Sedaris’ story, adapted by Joe Mantello, with smart spontaneous adlibs filtered with gay/Jewish references throughout that not only gets laughs but makes audiences relate to Fain’s elf character, Crumpet. For 80 minutes, Crumpet details the chaos, turmoil and adventures that happen during Macy’s Santa Claus in-store exhibit.  Mitchell Fain makes Crumpet, the elf a most empathetic character as he pours out his heart in a most truthful performance. Fain deftly works the situations with quick zinging asides and smart recognition of audience reaction. Fain works audiences effectively.

This sarcastic glimpse into the world of those dedicated to keeping the Christmas spirit alive is a major triumph. Fain delivers the vignettes about the chaos of the NYC Macy’s Santa exhibit with varying comedic styles. From subtle to silly to poignant to sarcastic to charming, Fain swiftly paints an energetic yet defeated look into the world of holiday helpers. We both laugh and empathize with Crumpet’s plight. Mitchell Fain easily wins us and keeps engaged as we laugh heartily. This show is for those who don’t believe in holiday traditions.

Be warned that the show id filled with raw language and it would probably be best to leave the kids at home. This is a razor-sharp potty-mouthed comic show that features one of Chicago’s finest talents: Mitchell Fain. Put this one on you list.


Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: December 1, 2013

For more info checkout The Santaland Diaries page at

At Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL,, tickets $24 – $36, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays & Saturdays  at 7:30 & 9:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 80 minutes without an intermission, through December 29, 2013


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