Washington Improv Theater POTUS Among UsBy Rachael Murray • Oct 16th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Washington Improv Theater
Source Theatre, Washington DC
Through November 5th
1:20, without intermission
Reviewed October 12th, 2012
Washington Improv Theater’s political offering, POTUS Among Us is a non-partisan evening of silliness. POTUS Among Us progresses through a ‘primary’ of five candidates, which the audience then narrows down to two. The rest of the story is the election season — including staff meetings, stump speeches, vice-presidential candidates, and debates — up to the point in which the audience elects the new leader of the US of A.
While the basic premise is structured and led by two ‘media’ representatives, much of the content (for example, the candidates’ campaign platforms and slogans) is generated in response to slips of paper pulled from a basket. (In the particular performance I attended, this just happened to lead the evening down an avenue of ‘poop’ jokes.)
The ensemble of improvisers is supportive of one other. When they sense a scene is not working or needs to move on, they are quick to help. Each member of the ensemble brings a different sense of humor, which made for constant and interesting changes as the show progressed. It also helped to have a very receptive audience that understood that not every line can be a zinger in an improvised show. Going in with this understanding is best.
Set, lighting, and costumes were minimal, but definitely appropriate to keep the focus on the improv. Lighting and sound cues followed the impulses of the performers and kept up fairly well. The costumes were made from clothing likely owned by the performers, but this worked well, as many of the candidates were not ‘lifer’ politicians, but more average Americans — for example, the owner of a B&B.
Poking fun at the political status quo is particularly needed in a city that is fundamentally run on the pomp and circumstance of the federal government. POTUS Among Us successfully mocks the circus-like antics of politicians during election season — and also the media and corporate schemes behind them. Depressing as the reality is, WIT made it possible to laugh at the absurdity of it all. It gives the citizens of the nation’s capital (and surrounding areas) a chance to see it all brought down a few notches.
While each successive experience of POTUS Among Us will be different from mine, I am confident in saying that anyone tired of the DC political climate or weary from presidential race coverage will enjoy a short time in which they, the people, get to much more directly influence the outcome — through laughter.
About POTUS Among Us
Every four years America makes a new king. Or queen. The person who embodies all our crazy hopes and dreams of who we are and how the world should be. The process by which we do it is absurd. The impact the process has on the people inside it is bizarre. The cult of personality involved is outlandish. It’s all just too fascinating not to explore.
So welcome to POTUS Among Us, WIT’s once-every-4-years indulgence. Tonight we’ll be playing with the process of the election without the bitter aftertaste of partisan politics. Together we’ll explore the spectacular promise of democracy in combination with the political and media structures we live with today. Because with POTUS Among Us, we’ll give you the democracy you deserve!
- Michael Bird
- Jon Chesebro
- Archie Cubarrubia
- Maggie Dempsey
- Jules Duffy
- Justus Hammond
- Abbey Kos
- Karen Lange
- Jamie Lantinen
- Dan Miller
- Aaron Mosby
- Elizabeth O’Neill
- Caroline Pettit
- Laura Spadanuta
- Kate Symes
- Michelle Swaney
- Stewart Walsh
- Josh Waytz
- Katie Walls
- Director: Mark Chalfant
- Lighting Designer: Jonathan Zucker
- Sound Designer: Christopher Blaine
- Graphic Artist: Kate Ahern Loveric
Disclaimer: Washington Improv Theater provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/8751.
Rachael Murray is an actor, director, and teaching artist. She is a Virginia Tech alumnus with a Bachelor's of Arts in English and Theatre Arts. A relative newcomer to the DC Metro area, Rachael has participated as both an actor and director in a variety of projects at Virginia Tech and has worked as a teaching artist with Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, New York.