A few years ago actor Simon Nichols had a couple of jobs he knew would someday provide useful material for his career.
One of them was performing as Captain Hook at a children’s birthday party, while another actor played Peter Pan. In the midst of a dance number Nichols looked over to see the actor playing Pan sporting an unfortunately timed and sizable erection out of his tights, much to the hysterical laugher of the mothers standing by, while the partying children remained oblivious.
Perth-born Nichols had also worked as Santa one Christmas season, surviving the ordeal of children tugging at his costume while parents presented a long list of demands they wanted for their children.
The kids were usually fine, but it was the parents who always provided the angst, Nichols recalls while preparing for his new Christmas show, The Santaland Diaries.
We had to make a fuss of certain kids, or rig the games so the birthday child’s best friend always won. I did these jobs as I thought it would be great acting experience, but I never realised just how well it would prepare me for this show. I feel such affinity for the character I am playing.
The Santaland Diaries was written by acclaimed gay New York writer David Sedaris and recounts the hilarious horrors playing one of Santa’s elves during the Christmas season at Macy’s department store.
It has become a cult Christmas show throughout the US and Europe in the 10 years since it was first written, and this new production directed by Tai O’Reilly marks the Australian premiere.
The story follows the experiences of Crumpet, the elf who can’t abide children and hates the dysfunctional nuclear families who push and shove their way into line to meet Santa Claus.
Crumpet is the bitchy, sarcastic elf who is there to provide good festive cheer for all, Nichols laughs.
He has a very black sense of humour and hates these families he has to deal with leading up to Christmas.
But Crumpet is also gay and has a crush on one of the other elves, a guy named Snowball, who he thinks he might have a chance with. That is, until he realises Snowball has been flirting with all the other elves as well -“ and that’s when Crumpet decides he has had enough.
As The Santaland Diaries satirises the forced celebration of the festive season, Nichols believes his show is the perfect antidote for people suffering too much from office parties and family get-togethers.
People without a big family and without kids will get the humour of this, he says.
It takes such an interesting look at the side of Christmas we never usually explore -“ the people who hate it and just want it to be over. Well, Crumpet is one of them.
The Santaland Diaries plays 13-23 December at Bar Me, Kings Cross. Book on 9368 0894 or at the Bar Me website.