Bush League

One hit, one miss, as two plays take swings at George W.

George Bush is proud of his stupidity; he doesn't hide it at all. That's a problem for plays taking broad aim at the current administration—satire is tricky enough without reality vying for the absurd upper hand every step of the way. Bush has made his own idiocy something like an article of faith, a dunce cap stigmata that prophesies his God-given ability to lead this country through the terrorized dawn of a new millennium. Thinking, our president believes, is for cowards and kowtowers and group huggers. That's how George W. sells himself, and that's exactly where flabbergasted liberals attack him, right on the "kick me" sign. Laura's Bush (playing through Monday, Nov. 1, at the Little Theatre, 206-325-5105) and Dubya 2000: A Political Horror (ends Tuesday, Nov. 2, at Re-bar, 206-382-4250) share much in common, not least of which is a sense of astonishment at the blatant badness of Bush and co. Both plays strive to expose our ridiculous political situation through a comedic application of shock and awe. The presumption driving the two plays could be stated thus: The Bush administration is comprised of individuals so intellectually deficient and morally bankrupt, it won't do to treat them as merely human. In Laura's Bush, we get the president supplanted by an Iraqi body double; George steals the election in Dubya 2000 not by bureaucratic chicanery and Floridian nepotism but courtesy of a pact with Satan. Such dramatic gambits are the literary equivalent of the hackneyed "it was all a dream" resolution, though only in the case of Dubya 2000 does this prove a fatal flaw. Laura's Bush, directed by Matthew Arbour and featuring a cast of talented comedic actors, wins you over with the sheer audacity of its attack, which is equal parts raunch and political savvy. Sexually repressed librarian Dody Dotson (wonderfully played by Megan Hill) discovers that first lady Laura Bush (Marya Sea Kaminski) is blinking out a Morse code call for help during her public appearances; Laura is actually a lesbian being held hostage by the aforementioned imposter president. Dody elicits the help of a sex-shop worker (Anya-Maria Ruoss) to kidnap the first lady and whisk her away to a secret lair, where the three hold a pajama party until the "shits in suits" arrive to break up the fun. From there, things get truly weird, and the surprise ending involves perhaps the most hilariously inappropriate use of blackface in the history of modern theater. If the play, written by Jane (Good Boys) Martin, sometimes trucks in some pretty obvious political humor, the exuberance and sophistication of the cast keeps things kicking along nicely. It's difficult to juggle such a tumult of zingers and barbs, and director Arbour should be commended for a deft, absorbing balancing act. Three short skits precede the play itself, each going off like a shot in the dark and, if possible, proving even more outrageous and offensive than the main attraction. The first mistake of Dubya 2000, written by Rik Keller and directed by Patrick Broemeling and Lisa Sanphillippo, is one of choice: Why recycle the "political horror" of the 2000 election debacle? Granted, the historical significance of Florida is immense, but haven't we had four intervening years of ripe decay from which to update the outrage? The second mistake, which impacts the first, is that the play, frankly, is bad. The material, which attempts to draw a connection between the satanic tomfoolery of the Bush clan and the microcosmic deception of a small-town girl (Amy Rider) by a sleazy huckster (Chris Mayse), is an exercise in allegorical futility. The writing, which traffics in poop jokes, hamstrings the cast, and the story is mostly incomprehensible. Compared to Laura's Bush, which tackles such timely topics as the Abu Ghraib prisoner scandal, the lack of inspiration crippling Dubya 2000 smacks of desperation in the face of reality. info@seattleweekly.com

 
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