- Politics has always been a target for satire, and David
Mamet, with his unsparing wicked pen, has used his biting
barbs to uncover the lengths to which a politician will go to
about money, it’s all about image, it’s all about power.
It’s seldom about those he purports to serve.
exploded in the modest space at Windfall Theatre last weekend,
and thanks to the incredible energy of Robert Kennedy and his
cohorts, burned for almost two hours. Typical of Mamet, the
language is strong at times, the tension is palpable and the
humor is scathing.
scene opens, Charles Smith, the incumbent President, is
struggling with falling numbers at the polls, and his PR
handler, Archer, is trying to convince him that he is doomed
to lose. The phone keeps ringing and interrupting their
conversation. His wife, his fundraiser and a turkey farmer are
among the callers. His secretary, Clarice Bernstein, calls in
sick to further frustrate the besieged president.
up a farcical situation - the Representative of the Turkey and
Turkey Products Manufacturers is waiting for the symbolic
blessing of two of his turkeys. Clarise, his lesbian secretary
and speechwriter, has just gone to China to adopt a baby and
wants Charles to marry her and her partner on national TV.
Charles is trying to bilk the turkey rep to donate enough
money to build him a presidential library even if he is not
re-elected. In the midst of this chaos, Dwight Grackle, an
angry native American, bursts in ranting about some land
rights he’s been denied.
characters play their roles broadly - Kennedy as the desperate
incumbent, Kevin Hogan as the voice of reason, Beth Monhollen
as the brilliant speechwriter with the bad cold and her own
agenda, Christopher Elst as the sincere Southerner who wants
the best for his turkeys and Michael Weber as the wild native
American who reminds us that everyone wants a part of the
spoils of politics.
configuration of the stage puts the Oval Office front and
center, positioning the audience on either side of the action
- almost as if we’re watching a competitive game of sorts.
The frenzy is contagious, but we experience the urge to get
away at times. When Smith fantasizes a bit about what it might
be like to be out of the bloodthirsty arena, we again begin to
wonder why anyone would want to expose themselves to this
degree of unrelenting stress. The lure of power, the desire to
leave a legacy must be incredibly attractive to some because
the price they pay to fulfill this dream is very steep.
directed by Maureen Kilmurry, the show doesn’t miss a beat,
though I thought it might be even more powerful as a
90-minute, uninterrupted show.
runs today, Saturday, Monday, Oct. 25 and Oct. 26.
The production, performed by Windfall Theatre, is done
at Village Church, 130 E. Juneau Ave., Milwaukee. For show
times and tickets, call 414-332-3963 or visit www.WindfallTheatre.com