Scott Starbuck 9 p.m., April 19
It's Nick's first day on the job as a "mall Santa." Instead of training he's plunked onto the chair, fat-suited with a scratchy white beard, and told to keep the kids occupied till their picture's taken. It's the actor's nightmare, ho-ho-ho version. Katherine Harroff and Circle Circle dot dot have earned an impressive reputation for grounding their works in local references. For this piece, now in its world premiere, the group interviewed San Diegans who have played Santa. Bearded runs the gamut of their experiences, from hilarious to heartbreaking. Director Patrick Kelly moves the show at a brisk clip and, with the cast, has invented funny, Saturday Night Live-like stage business. And what's it like to sit in judgement of a child's entire year, summing up the bad's and the good's for the Yuletide trick or treat? And what's it like to hear their stories and be helpless? Michael Nieto's Nick has an eerie innocence. Possibly because new to the job -- but maybe not -- his Santa pays individual attention. Nieto never forces the compassion. But it's always there, enough to suggest that maybe the real St. Nick just wandered into Westwield's Morton Plaza needing a job.
Worth a try.
- Cost: $15 - $25
When: Ongoing until Saturday, December 21, 2013
- Sundays, 4pm
- Thursdays, 8pm
- Fridays, 8pm
- Saturdays, 8pm
- "Bearded at Circle Circle dot dot" (Dec. 9, 2013)