Presidential politics at their most venial is the subject of Theatre in the Park’s #@$+*! hilarious presentation of NOVEMBER, a zany Oval Office farce by famously foul-mouthed Chicago dramatist David Mamet, directed by and starring TIP executive and artistic director Ira David Wood III as outrageously corrupt fictional lame-duck President Charles H.P. Smith, a colossal screw-up who combines President George W. Bush’s ineptitude with President William J. Clinton’s alley-cat morals. Director/star David Wood’s decision to substitute minor expletives for Mamet’s barrage of F-bombs and S-bombs can certainly be second guessed, but the raucous humor of NOVEMBER survives, even with most of its cruder expletives deleted.
David Wood struts and frets hilariously, and digs deep into his repertoire of funny voices, as the disgraceful Chuck Smith, hopelessly behind in the polls but still determined to enjoy every perq of his presidency and squeeze every nickel that he can from lobbyists and trade associations, such as the National Association of Turkey and Turkey By-Products Manufacturers, who continue to seek presidential favors while Smith’s popularity plummets in the polls.
Other uproarious comic characterizations include: Larry Evans’ pixilated performance as the hapless and increasingly frazzled Turkey Man, who discovers that the perfunctory price of presidential pardons for his two Thanksgiving birds has gone up, way up, in the last days of President Smith; Jesse R. Gephart’s wryly witty impersonation of cynical presidential advisor Archer Brown; and Cameron West’s amusing antics as Smith’s lesbian speechwriter Clarice Bernstein, jet-lagged and sick with a nasty old — or is it bird flu? — after a brief but successful trip to China to adopt a little girl, but pressed into service anyway by her desperate Commander in Chief, who really does have no decency left.
Last but certainly not least is a rib-tickling cameo by critically acclaimed comic actor Scotty Cherryholmes as irate Native American chief Dwight Grackle, who is on the warpath after a recent telephone encounter with an abusive President Smith, in which Chuck mortally insults the chief and makes fun of his dead wife.
The wonderfully detailed Oval Office set by scenic and lighting designer Stephen J. Larson and the handsome Washington power wardrobe by costume designer Shawn Stewart-Larson both help heighten the hilarity of this must-see comedy. There are only five fabulous performances of NOVEMBER left, so buy your tickets today.
SECOND OPINION: June 15th Raleigh, NC NEWS & OBSERVER review by Roy C. Dicks: http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/06/15/532912/toned-down-mamet-is-good-for-laughs.html; and June 14th Classical Voice of North Carolina review by Alan R. Hall: http://cvnc.org/reviews/2010/062010/TIP.html. (To read the Triangle Arts and Entertainment online version of the June 9th TRIANGLE THEATER REVIEW preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/06/november-preview-by-robert-w-mcdowell/.)
Theatre in the Park presents NOVEMBER, starring Ira David Wood III, at 8 p.m. June 17-19 and 3 p.m. June 20 in the Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre, 107 Pullen Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
- TICKETS: $21 ($13 students and active-duty military personnel and $15 seniors 60+).
- BOX OFFICE: 919/831-6058 or http://www.etix.com/.
- GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919/831-6058. SHOW: http://www.theatreinthepark.com/november.html.
- PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.theatreinthepark.com/.
- PARKING/DIRECTIONS: http://www.theatreinthepark.com/directions_and_parking.html.
- The Play: http://www.novembertheplay.com/ (official website) and http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?ID=467153 (Internet Broadway Database).
- The Playwright: http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=5000 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000519/ (Internet Movie Database).
- Ira David Wood III: http://www.theatreinthepark.com/theatre_staff_board.html (Theatre in the Park) and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0202796/ (Internet Movie Database).
by Robert W. McDowell
Robert McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review of Raleigh, NC. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.E-mail RobertM748[at]aol.com to start your FREE subscription to this weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter.