Mark Whitney Rightful MastersBy Genie Baskir • Jul 24th, 2012 • Category: Fringe, Reviews
Studio Theatre – Milton Theatre (1501 14th St NW DC)
Through July 28th
Reviewed July 21st, 2012
Something happened to Mark Whitney. Everything he believed in or thought he believed in turned out to be a fraud. Of course this epiphany happened not in his youth, but in a settled and prosperous adulthood when he just happened to be incarcerated in a federal penitentiary for a white-collar crime. I am not unsympathetic to Whitney. He is a genuinely nice and fine man who went off the rails and then got back on as the ultimate establishmentarian; but not in the way one thinks of an establishmentarian.
Rightful Masters is a designated comedy. There is no point in arguing with the nomenclature; it’s not untrue…..it is a very dark comedy about a very dark subject. Whitney is sincere, but not buffoonish like Michael Moore.
Who are the Rightful Masters? We all are the rightful masters. We, the citizens, the taxpayers, the ones who vote…. or should vote. Whitney squandered his prison time in the law library where he studied and became a pretty good greenhorn constitutional scholar. He is not a constitutionalist in the Tea Party/Posse Comitatus style, but rather in the Jeffersonian/Jacksonian mode (dear me….that Andrew Jackson just keeps coming back at me; and in the same theatre too….lol). Whitney is a libertarian for whom the highest form of citizenship is constitutional knowledge as popular culture.
His one man show is about the unveiling of a terse, but deadly, public law that gives the President, anyone in that office, the status of an inglorious bastard. Essentially, the President can, and may, order the assassination of American citizens anywhere in the world, even in the United States. There is no due process, no habeas corpus, no right to a defense. There are only robotic weapons and the President’s word that the target is a security threatening nogoodnik who has to be taken out of commission permanently. Unfortunately, Whitney’s example of this outrageously illegal executive power is the supremely unsympathetic Muslim cleric Anwar al Awlaki, the Larry Flynt of radical imams.
Whitney is entertaining because he is such a good man and he believes that serious and competent citizens need to take responsibility for their lives through knowledge of our collective rights, privileges and immunities. He is Ralph Naderish in his tenacity and prophet like in his wish for a more honest civic engagement. I do believe in his sincerity even though I thought he cherry picked the details of Awlaki and just what he did that deserved such Presidential commitment to an assassination plan.
Political true believers in their many forms will not like this engagement with Whitney, but open and fair-minded individuals will appreciate that Whitney leaves us with questions. Answers are easy; it is questions that are difficult. I like Mark Whitney the gentleman and I think his show, or lecture really, is a good and different form of entertainment.
Disclaimer: Capital Fringe provided one complimentary media ticket to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/8356.
Genie Baskir is a theatrical producer. She worked in radio production and direction for many years and gravitated to theatre when family members became involved with the stage.