Politics puts everyone on edge. Few people want to discuss issues of the country with others for fear that they will easily offend others with what they say. However, it is and has always been true that even though we typically avoid conversations about current political happenings, we love making fun of the politicians who do discuss them. Don’t lie; how many George W. Bush jokes have you told at a party? How many horrible impersonations of President Barrack Obama have you attempted? How many funny videos of Governor Chris Christie have you watched recently?
Tail! Spin!, a new comedy “texted, tweeted, and told by your elected leaders,” provides a provocative, well-constructed, national view of hypocrisy in our democracy. It follows four elected leaders (Rep. Mark Foley, Sen. Larry Craig, Gov. Mark Sanford, and Rep. Anthony Weiner) through their respective scandals such as, but not limited to, sexting, marital affairs, or lewd conduct in the mens room.
The most intriguing aspect of this production is that all words uttered by these men are words that they have actually said. Nothing was written in for clarity. No blanks were filled. The audience is reminded of this before and throughout the performance. This makes every bit of comedy in the play a work of genius. The play is masterfully crafted, with each of the five actors running the gamut of political characters from Hillary Clinton to Stephen Colbert.
As I walked in, the set made it feel as if I were at a political debate. This is exactly what the tone of the play transmitted to the audience. Just like a debate, it was politicians defending themselves and their ideas in front of a group of judging people, but rather than discussing healthcare, they were discussing their accidental public tweeting of an ironic organ.
The actors carried this incredible writing with enormous grace and comedic skill.
Arnie Burton, portraying Mark Foley as well as others, delivered a masterful performance, with each of his characters as specific and clear as if there were more than one actor playing the parts.
Sean Dugan plays Senator Larry Craig wonderfully, but he truly shines in the smaller cameo characters he transforms into during the play. His portrayal of Sean Hannity is one of the most comedic moments of the evening.
Tom Galantich brings a lovely Southern touch to Gov. Mark Sanford in an applaudable performance full of slapstick comedy and hilarious absurdity.
Saturday Night Live veteran Rachel Dratch has the most on her plate, playing all the wives, mistresses, tails, beards, and Barbara Walters. She does it without missing a beat. In this play she affirms herself as one of the greatest comedians of our time.
But, it was actor Nate Smith as Anthony Weiner who had the audience captivated from moment one. His performance of Weiner, as well as a young boy, a gay lover, and many others throughout the piece is one of the finest performances of comedy the New York theatre community has seen in a very long time. Stealing the show implies a negative connotation, so I’ll refrain from saying it.
The writing, or should I say construction, of this piece by Mario Correa is a masterpiece. It brilliantly pieces together the words of these politicians in the context of interviews, texts, tweets, letters, emails, and more to have a standing narrative for each of these characters.
The set, lights, projection design, and sound all creatively weave these four politicians together on an exploration of their scandals under the brilliant direction of Dan Knechtges.
This play says a great deal about politics, corruption, and hypocrisy in America. It does so by simply laughing at it, reminding us all what is great about the theatre, the fact that we can be entertained and enlightened at the same time. Run and get tickets to this hilarious comedy; you won’t regret it.
I gave it five stars, but I’d say let’s give it fifty stars–and thirteen stripes while we’re at it.
TAIL! SPIN! – Written by Mario Correa; directed by Dan Knechtges
WITH: Arnie Burton, Rachel Dratch, Sean Dugan, Tom Galantich, and Nate Smith.
Scenic and projection design by Caite Hevner Kemp; Costume Design by Jennifer Caprio; Lighting design by Ryan O’Gara; Sound design by John Emmett O’Brien; Produced by Billy Zavelson, Marianne Mills, Ben Feldman, Kristen Stein, Flying Bulldog Productions, Paula Kaminsky Davis, Jeffrey Sosnick/Neal Rubinstein, and Jamie deRoy At The Lynn Redgrave Theater at the Culture Project, 45 Bleeker St. http://www.tailspinshow.com/ Running Time: 75min