Capital Fringe Review: ‘The Politician’ by Francine Schwartz

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The Politician is a satire poking fun at the politicians and media circus of Washington. A follow-up to The Pundit, last year’s Capital Fringe hit, it revolves around an escalating clash between a western point of view and that of a terrorist. The western perspective is not the acknowledged winner. John Feffer has reworked the Pundit into the first act of The Politician, developing his expose of the relationship between pundits, the press, and the world they are commenting on.This clash of civilizations reveals media sophistry, Washington social climbing, sexual pay-to-play and other hypocrasies which undermine, some would say, American claims of moral superiority.
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Peter Peters is a Washington politician who is on an upward trajectory fed by vacuous radio interviews in an elegant minimalist set when he gets a phone call he thinks is from Kissinger but is actually a terrorist threat. Although he has never heard of the country before (conveniently Kaisheria is a real never-never land) he makes himself an expert as he tries to avoid career suicide and incidentally reduce the body count.

According to the author, Punditry is never having to say “I don’t know.”

The Pundit featured a star turn by the author, John Feffer, who is a journalist and the co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. Currently out of the country, his place as Peter Peters was ably taken by Sean Coe, who played the terrorist Ruslan X in last year’s production. Ethan Kitts (Ruslan) gains our respect as he plays a menacing but droll terrorist whose native wit and pragmatism is contrasted with Peter Peters increasing defensiveness, isolation and exasperation. Michael Crowley (another actor/foreign policy wonk) plays several parts with conspicuous success utilizing a British accent to lend European sophistication to the mix. Lisa Hodsoll, Sarah Strasser, and Morganne Davies ably play comedienne parts which provide welcome respite from the escalating political crisis. Conor Scanlan is the most inane intern the world has ever seen and then shocks us by morfing into Peter Peters’ son, who becomes a hostage.

The strong script of The Politician is also written by John Feffer. He has produced a funny as well as thought-provoking work which should appeal to those of us who mourn the ending of West Wing. It is directed by Doug Krehbel (who also directed The Pundit). Perhaps it was his idea to have the radio interviews conducted while each actor faces in a different direction to enhance the ersault nature of their interaction.

The Politician is a riveting production and highly recommended. Don’t miss it!

Running Time: is 110 minutes with a five minute break.

The Politician plays through July 28, 2013 at Goethe Institut – Main Stage -812 7th Street NW,  in Washington, DC. For performance times and to purchase tickets, go to the show’s Capital Fringe page.


 

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