Performance Review: The War Party
The War Party by Vincent Delaney
InterAct Theatre Company
Directed by Rebecca Wright
Starring Susan Wilder, Meghan Heimbecker, and Tim Moyer
10 Words or Less … Losing U.S. Senator wrestles devoted intern to the ground.
Strengths … If my ten-word synopsis sounds like something pulled directly from the headlines of a national newspaper, it is actually a reflection of the relevancy of InterAct’s production of Vincent Delaney’s play, The War Party. The play opens at 3 a.m. in the deserted campaign headquarters of Laura Smith, a Republican senator who has just lost her bid for re-election. As Laura proceeds to get drunk on the cheap champagne intended for her victory celebration, she is confronted by her opinionated volunteer intern who blames the senator’s hairdo for her election loss. Although this play was written three years ago, it is incredibly timely in relation to the failed presidential primary bid of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and the controversial nomination of Senator John McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin. Delaney’s characters grapple with the difficulties faced by female politicians committed to important issues and the tabloid-centric public more concerned with their private lives, their hair, and the cost of their wardrobes.
Weaknesses … Senator Smith is a diabetic and is trying to commit suicide by drinking herself dead with cheap champagne. As her blood sugar spirals she has hallucinations of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. While Tim Moyer does a fantastic job channeling FDR, these scenes seem to be an intellectual indulgence or an inside joke that the audience in not fully privy to. Rebecca Wright’s direction is wonderfully choreographed, but even the most skilled director would struggle to make these scenes effective in relation to the rest of the play.
Verdict … I had a great time laughing at this play! The truth of its comedy is liberating, and the fact that they throw food offers a well-needed release. InterAct’s keen political concentration offers audiences a raucous and fun dramatization of the often ridiculous nature of the American political system at a time when most of us are exhausted by the spin. Susan Wilder as Laura Smith and Meghan Heimbecker as Jessie are hilarious as they literally wrestle their way through these complex issues. Their abilities as physical actors and their comedic timing offer a welcome political romp at a time when many of us doubt the sanity of our real political environment. This production gets my vote!