At the Politician's Fringe premiere, the audience packed the Goethe-Institut 's main stage in Chinatown, eager to see
another political show, for in this town, another political show is always welcome. (Many are not on stage yet.)
The Politician is all about one assistant assistant undersecretary at the State Department, "Peter Peters," (Sean Coe) a typical Washingtonian A-lister moving up and over bodies to reach higher and higher plateaus, none which remain satisfactory for longer than a nanosecond. Isn't that the nature of the human beast? (Especially the ones in D.C.)
Peters advances to assistant deputy secretary to under secretary, and next stop: NATO.
Along the way he’s got to deal with his wife (Lisa Hodsoll; does she have to call so much?), his son (“No! I don’t have time to go to his violin concert!”), interns, interviews ad nauseum, a terrorist from Kharzaria (?), and even a pesky radio d.j.
The play is a comedy-drama with lots of great lines, many coming from the hilarious but serious terrorist, Ruslan X (Ethan Kitts) who says his parts with the solemnity of a bomb about to detonate. To the audience's delight, he often mixes up his English: "puddle" for "splash," and "ghost us" for "haunt us." (You have to be there.)
For Fringe, it’s a big cast of seven, with four who have two or more roles (and five who are the radio callers). Smooth transitions gave no hint about multiple parts, only afforded the experienced. No weaknesses were observed in any presentations, however, "show stealers" were Conor Scanlan, Peters' intern who also acts as his son, and Morganne Davies in three roles, including Peters' mistress.
It's not often you see one person in four roles, deftly acted here by Michael Crowley. In one of her two parts Sarah Strasser delivered the ideal exaggeration and inflection of an entertaining television reporter.
The sound director deserves special recognition, but at left center stage was a burned-out light bulb needing replacement. Microphones would have aided reception. Costuming was match perfect.
Doug Krehbel directed with assistance from Christine Barry.
Although the performance lasted two hours (long for Fringe), I was not ready for it to end, and would welcome a combined production on a bigger platform, like maybe Woolly Mammoth's? Latecomers' intrusions would be thwarted.*
Whatever, not to miss!
*About latecomers: When I placed my order for a Fringe ticket package, I had to acknowledge three times my understanding that latecomers would not be seated, but they were at the Goethe-Institut. Not just one or two individuals, but trickling groups, too. The entrance to seating at the Goethe is at the front, so latecomers have to walk on the stage platform. Which is what they also did after intermission. Maybe they were politicians on waivers.
What: The Politician
When: July 24, 5:45 p.m. and July 28, 12 p.m.
Where: Goethe-Institut, Main Stage, 812 Seventh Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001
Duration: About two hours with one short pause
How much: $17 + a one-time charge for the $7 Fringe button required at all venues or buy discounted seats in multiples
Metro stations: Metro Center, Mt. Vernon Square-Convention Center, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Archives
For more information: 866-811-4111