by John Stoehr
Matthew Bivins, former member of Charleston rock band Jump, Little Children, makes a great elf. He's the lead in Charleston Stage's new production, The Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris. I saw the preview performance on Friday night.
Bivins (above) has naturally impish eyes and a knowing smirk that makes it very easy for him to deliver Sedaris's understated style and subliminal meaning even when the language of the script suggests otherwise. Director Greg Tavares, of the improv comedy troupe the Have Nots, does a superb job of reframing Santaland from a monologue to a three-person one-act.
There were stalled moments. When Bivins changed into his humiliating elf costume, the time dragged. That will likely be ironed out with subsequent performances. Bivins also need not show anger or irritation. He should let the language tell the story, not force it with facials. But again, that will no doubt be smoothed over in the next few weekends. These are smalls nits to pick. You'll see what I mean when you see the show. —J.S.