David Cerda is not afraid to admit that Christmas “makes you feel crappy,” and this raw honesty is partly why the 15th remount of his pop culture parody, “Rudolph, The Red- Hosed Reindeer” is worth watching. Add superb comic timing, excellent writing, and a biting satire that shocks and stings, and you’ve got a happily entertained audience. A talented cast belts out songs and creates hilarious, over-the-top characters, taking away every inch of your xmas blues in blissful escapist fashion.
You’ll never again look at the 1964 Rankin/Bass Christmas television special in quite the same way. In Cerda’s version, Rudolph is a cross-dressing reindeer with ‘tude, Santa is a megalomaniac slave driver, and Mrs. Claus is a dirty old lush bent on destruction. Well, doesn’t that make more sense? The Puritans banned St. Nick, the Dutch smuggled in Sinter Klaas, and Santa eventually emerged as an overweight creepy guy with a beard on Coca Cola ads. Cerda clearly did his homework on Santa history, yet he updates the material with a 2012 twist.
Everything, from the Kardashians to Obama’s bloated welfare state, Romney platitudes, and “white men in suits trying to own women’s bodies” is open target, and Cerda delivers bitch-slaps of razor-sharp observations on hypocrisy and greed. One of the show’s memorable numbers, “Don’t Be Yourself/(You’ve Got To) Ho Ho Ho It,” takes a stab at the pressure to conform in gay (or not) society. On the polar opposite, Cerda pokes fun at heterosexuals for being “vanilla” and “Starbucks-obsessed.” Nobody gets out alive, which is why Hell in A Handbag productions continues to draw a wide audience.
Copywriter Robert L. May wrote the original “Rudolph” story in 1939, basing it on his own experiences with ridicule as a child. Cerda spins his past history with schoolmate torment into a compelling statement on the misfit’s triumph. What people try to suppress is actually your pièce de résistance.