Monday, September 29, 2008

Political Humor

by Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal's political comedy from 1968 provides may hap and miscegenation; a battle of wits and wills between father and son; and, enough historical and political references and characters to keep you laughing for two hours. The current production by Timeline Theater is excellent with another outstanding performance by Janet Ulrich Brooks that is, as they say, worth the price of admission. I most enjoyed the little details in the performances like the moments when the nerdy political pollster, clearly a George Stephanopoulos wannabe (one of Vidal's many prescient moments), sneaks cigarettes at the beginning of scenes; that is, until the cigarette case is empty. I admired the timing of the company with perfect ripostes and a light physical touch that kept the play moving. I should also mention Terry Hamilton who played the "moderate" Republican Senator MacGruder with good-hearted warmth and ease, and Penny Slusher who, as his wife, demonstrated strength of her own to match that of her husband. As with all good performances the evening went quickly and, filled as it was with resonances between the history of 1968 and today's not so different political landscape, the play took on meanings that it could not have explored when first performed on Broadway in the spring of 1968. My closing thought on viewing this gem is the famous French adage: plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. . .

Weekend by Gore Vidal. Produced by TimeLine Theatre Company 615 W. Wellington in Chicago.

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