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Reviews

DUBYA 2000

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Playwright/director Rik Keller's endlessly fertile imagination spawned this three-hour election-year anti-Bush theatrical polemic cross-pollinated by Halloween, murderous mother Susan Smith, and scion George Dubya ("W") pursuing a family tradition of public service—to unholy Satanism. Peppered with political arcana appreciable by only those already in the know, this creation is a witches' brew of sight gags, SNL skits, and semi-serious drama (including a clumsy rendering of Susan Smith as Medea). The mix often leaves the players in a netherland 'twixt improv, X-rated children's theatre, and earnest acting, but many give lively, if unsustained, performances.

Tom Chalmers is hilarious as the Idiot Evil—Jeb Bush—transmogrified, when his CIA-implanted computer chip is removed, from a rigidly proper governor to his true being—a homicidal infantile corpse-humping demon who later sports a monstrous talking erection—it's Lee Atwater summoned by necromancy from his CIA-preserved brain tumor. Rachel Dara Wolfe nicely tilts at Smith's desperate promiscuity and need for fame, while Jacob Sidney is an intriguing steely cold Satan-CIA operative who cynically seduces Smith to push her over the edge. As the suspected "African-American" child-killer, Aldrich Allen deftly portrays a shuffling self-effacing "negro" who makes an impossible confession in order to move the dumb white cops off the dime. The troupe's dance ensembles delight with their usual sensual synergy, and there is plenty of eye-candy from terrific costuming, especially the unworldly characters, designed by Bradley Thordarson and constructed by Silvia Jahnson and Michelle Goode.

A minor glitch in acoustic design (Drew Dalzell) has the cutout set absorb sound, making the actors (especially one playing the Nurse) hard to hear when flat paneling doesn't back it. Would that the endlessly repetitious and unfocussed action were so easily remedied. (Leave aside that two characters beside Evil Idiot have feet-long erections and there are two foot-long cock jokes.) Only the final few minutes, aided by creative video, coalesce as powerful political theatre. John Sylvain has an electric moment as the Fugitive, who escapes knowing the "full story" that the CIA-controlled media makes sure nobody will hear. Beaten brutally by a circle of cops transformed into water ballerinas as they turn stage front, smiling, serving and protecting, Sylvain has a chance to shout a final, urgent warning to the audience.

Despite the talent and energy of this production, its entirely unself-conscious lack of coherent narrative, mood, or atmosphere helps mark an unhappy sea change. Dubya 2000 is aimed at a sensibility weaned on sound-bites and channel surfing—so habituated to aural wafers or sheer visuals instead of text that each additional provocative image of the same idea, no matter how redundant, seems a new revelation (though here it's hard to say of what). Keller is right that the media is transforming politics, but it is also transforming theatre, and not necessarily for the better.

"Dubya 2000," presented by the Sacred Fools Theater Company at the Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Dr., Hollywood. Thurs.-Sat. 8 p.m. Oct. 13-Nov. 4; Sun.-Tues. Nov. 5-7. $12 (except for closing gala 11/07, $25). (310) 281-8337.

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