Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Night At The Theatre, "Abraham Lincoln's Big, Gay Dance Party"

Yes, I really saw a show called Abraham Lincoln's Big, Gay Dance Party. And if Chris Chandler hadn't been in it, I'm sure I would have never known about the play.

Here's a synopsis according the their website: The story is set in Menard County, Illinois, where Abraham Lincoln once lived and operated a general store. It begins with the annual school Christmas pageant, where the 4th-grade teacher, Harmony Green, has rewritten the script to call into question Lincoln’s sexuality.

The town is horrified and demands she be held accountable. The local DA, Tom Hauser, has Green fired and arrested for distributing harmful materials to minors.

Hauser, a former Republican congressman who left Washington in disgrace in the 80s, receives national attention for the arrest. The RNC sends one of its best people, Lloyd Chambers, to Menard to set Hauser up for a run for Governor.

At the same time, Hauser's friend and protégée, Regina Lincoln, a State Senator, is planning a run for the Governor's mansion and goes to Menard to ask Tom to campaign for her -- only to discover he is running against her. And with the favorable media attention he is attracting as a result of the trial, Regina is certain to lose in the primary. Betrayed and hungry for revenge, she realizes she can attract the same amount of attention and cast Hauser as an out-of-touch radical by acting as Green's defense attorney. When she does, the trial becomes "the trial of the century," pitting two Republican power houses against each other.

This brings Anton Renault to town. A Pulitzer-winning reporter from the New York Times, Renault has his own agenda stemming from Hauser's time in Congress. Renault blames Hauser for exacerbating the AIDS crisis and intends to use his coverage of the trial as an opportunity to end Hauser's career once and for all. His efforts are unexpectedly complicated by the friendship he forms with Hauser's son, Jerry Hauser.

The play is about the trial of the century, but it is also about history -- the history of Lincoln (and the radically disparate interpretations of it), and the history of animosities and friendships between the characters stemming from the 80s. One could say the play examines how we are constantly "re-litigating" our history.

I didn't care for the show at all. It wasn't necessarily the acting, though there really were no strong performances. It's the play itself. With a name like Abraham Lincoln's Big, Gay Dance Party what incentive does one really have to take things seriously?

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