NOT REALLY, NOT REALLY!
The most pressing question I had walking out of Athenaeum Theatre’s Blagojevich, Blagojevich! was “Was that really necessary?” We’re already familiar with the long, hysterical end of Rod Blagojevich’s career—a thing so jam-packed with comedy on its own that a show dedicated to making fun of it seems redundant. Still, there is a cornucopia of source material to draw from, but playwright Michael K. Feinstein touches on much of this only peripherally, and instead injects unwarranted impersonations of Elvis and Richard Nixon, drawing untenable parallels between their fall and Rod’s (it also doesn’t help that Eric Roach’s caricatures are done poorly). When this fails to bear rich comedic fruit, Feinstein dips into artless vulgarity: Nixon tells Rod to go after a reporter’s “pussy” more than once. And then Rod (Darren Stephens) starts quoting Shakespeare, suggesting that this play was intended to be intelligent. Under Clayton Fox’s direction, Blagojevich manages to stir a few chuckles in its 90-minute runtime, but I was mostly just uncomfortable and hot (the latter due to a broken air conditioner at the theatre).
No doubt there are folks with a taste for crass comedy, but even in terms of its low-brow genre, Blagojevich is both middling and late to the game. I would have suggested some another Blago-spoof instead, but I’m pretty sure they all closed a year ago (or, at least, they should have). If you’re putting on news-mocking comedy of this caliber, at least be timely. And thus, I suppose I answered the question posed at the beginning of the review: “Was that really necessary?” “No. It wasn’t.”
photos by Corey Lubowich
presented by Heckman & Brost Productions at Athenaeum Theatre’s Studio 2
scheduled to end on September 22, 2012
for tickets, visit http://www.blagojevichtheplay.com
for info on this and other Chicago Theater, visit http://www.TheatreinChicago.com