You can almost see the headlines in the Weekly World News: "Abraham Lincoln Rises From the Grave!" And yet it's rather peculiar: Abraham Lincoln is resurrected, and the best gig he can get is some teeny tiny shoebox theatre on Hollywood Boulevard? You'd think he could at least book an appearance on Conan, if not on Dave or Jay. Actually, writer/performer Ed Trotta's one-man tribute to Honest Abe is a crisply performed, albeit rather orthodox, solo historical monologue that reminds one almost unnervingly of the old Hall of the Presidents show at Disneyland, in which robot presidents delivered speeches about themselves. And just like his animatronic Disney self, Lincoln (Trotta, who bears an eerie resemblance to his character) is resplendent in a tall top hat and long black coat as he steps onstage and reminisces about various incidents from his life.
He describes his childhood, his courtship of his wife Mary, and his deliberations during the Civil War. There's even an attempt to offer a few words about the state of national security—about which he is surprisingly in line with the current administration. He re-enacts the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and he does a better-than-good recap of The Gettysburg Address.
Of course, this is all usual stuff one would expect in any show about the life of Lincoln, but Trotta's collection of incidents is performed with personality and respect. In director John Herzog's tightly paced, nicely intimate production, the show feels ideally suited for a young audience that doesn't know much about the subject. However, one finds oneself wishing the piece were a little less straightforward, stodgy, and reverent—Lord knows, it wouldn't do any harm to show Lincoln in a livelier light. We often start to wish Lincoln would just cut up, don a clown nose or dance around the stage, just to pep things up. Yes, it's important to approach as iconic a figure as Lincoln with respect, but a touch of irony and irreverence would help create a more vivid and likeable portrait.
"Abraham Lincoln in Two Miles a Penny," presented by Wind Chimes Productions and the Los Angeles Repertory Company at the Robert Pickering Studio Theatre, 6560 Hollywood. Blvd., Hollywood. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 7 p.m. May 2-May 25. $10. (323) 464-8542.