Twisted Christmas

'Tis the season at Cleveland Public Theatre.

Not one but two holiday-themed productions take the stage this year at the venerable theater at 6415 Detroit Ave. “The Santaland Diaries” stars Andy Tarr as a 33-year-old David Sedaris, not yet a best-selling author, working as Crumpet the Macy’s Santaland elf in a green uniform with a perky, spangle-bedecked stocking cap. Crumpet spends this joyous season watching children use Santaland as their own personal bathroom.

Also, Meg Chamberlain plays Mrs. Cratchit, the long-suffering wife of Bob, a man who celebrates the season by bringing home orphan children and gruel for Christmas dinner. Mrs. Cratchit finally snaps, embarking on a wild Christmas binge with plenty of alcohol.

For Cleveland Magazine, Crumpet and Mrs. Cratchit briefly emerged from their mistletoe-induced misery to offer their advice on getting the most out of this holiday season.


What has serving Santa taught you?

“The naughtiest children in the world are usually parents themselves. Kicking and screaming isn’t the best way to get what you want.”


Where’s the best place to do your holiday shopping?

“Anywhere you can find a good dollar store that doesn’t scream Made in China, Mexico or the Philippines. Fire sales or anything where just a little scrub job can get the smoke damage off are good places to find items for even your closest relatives.”


Since you know Santa personally, what does he really want us to leave him on Christmas Eve?

“I’ve known many Santas and several of them prefer the traditional milk and cookies. However, I can imagine Santa would easily accept a spa treatment or, in some cases, a bottle of gin.”


What can last-minute shoppers learn from an elf?

“Don’t touch me! If you and your throng have decided to wait until the last minute to visit Santa and you are expecting an Olan Mills moment, then you should have gotten off your ass just after Thanksgiving.”


What’s one thing everyone should know about Santa?

“At the end of a work day, you realize that there are certain cult figures you would just rather not share a locker room with. The whole bowl-full-of-jelly idea is cute, but you don’t need to see it jarring in front of you.”


What would “The Elfin Guide” say about accepting a gift you really don’t like?

“The level of performance should equally reflect the level at which you care about that person. If they share the cubicle next to you, you really shouldn’t gush over their ceramic statue of Santa praying over the baby Jesus.


Mrs. Cratchit:

What makes for a good holiday party?

“Lots of alcohol and no children.”


What’s the best place to hang the mistletoe?

“There is no mistletoe. Bob brought it home once and we cooked it up and ate it.”


What’s your advice to women who are dating modern-day Bob Cratchits?

“Men with good hearts are fine to date, but don’t get further involved. Just be friends with them, never marry them.”


How should parents handle the Santa Question?

“There is no Santa Claus, that’s pretty much what I tell [my children]. It would be foolish to tell them that there was because then they would think that they were bad because Santa didn’t bring them any presents. If you can afford to have Santa, then I suppose you could lie and tell them there really is a Santa.”


Where’s the best pub to wash away your holiday sorrows?

“Definitely Snickers or McNamara’s.”


“The Santaland Diaries” and “Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge” run through Dec. 18 at Cleveland Public Theatre. For more information, visit or call (216) 631-2727.

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