Highly Recommended **** Satire is fun to watch. We have all become observers to the political arena due to our high tech lives, where everything is immediate when it comes to news and politics. Back in the 1930’s this was not the case. Therefore , as we gaze upon the subject matter in Maxwell Anderson’s Pulitzer Prize winning “Both Your Houses” as presented by Remy Bumppo Theatre, we get a glimpse at history that may not have been taught in our classrooms as we grew up. The question that arises is, “Has Congress changed from the early days? Do politicians still bargain as we see in the case of our Congressmen playing give and take with the funds of the annual budget?
In this play, solidly directed by James Bohnen on a set designed by Yu Shibagaki, we get an inside look at how our policies are shaped and manipulated by the men we put in office. After all, theses are the “good old boys” and when a new Congressman, Alan McClean (deftly handled by Chris Amos) is added to the Appropriations committee, and sees the items that are being added to the budget, he decides to be more honest and upright, no matter the cost. Now we get to watch this all-star cast work within the framework of Anderson’s play to make us feel that we are the “fly on the wall” listening to these politicians “do their thing”!
In this riveting character study we get to watch honest men (or are they?) do what they feel is right for their constituents. The people elected them for a reason, now it is time to pay-off! In the case at hand, by trying to convince the “crooked politicians” to go his way, McClean ends up changing the course of history and each of these Congressmen, honest or crooked becomes better for the lesson they have been taught. Could what we see in this play take place today? You bet your “bippy” it could. In fact, it probably still happens just as it did back in the good old days. The biggest difference would be the cast of characters probably more women than there were in the ’30’s. Can each of these Congressmen do the right thing? And Survive?
You need to spend the two hours at The Greenhouse Theater Center and see for yourself. Watching this superior cast bring these characters to life with just the right flair and chemistry is a treat. Many of the Remy Bumppo regulars and some other strong (and very familiar) faces:
Larry Baldacci, David Darlow, Peter A. David, Jesse Dorman, Linda Gillum, James Houton, Noah Simon, Joanna Riopelle, Brian Parry, Peter Ed Johnson, Paul Tinsley, Eliza Stoughton and Scott Egleston. They almost appear to be the real thing and thanks to the great props (Jesse Gaffney) it appears that what they are doing is in fact happening. By the way, younger people might be confused as they watch the telephone that is used in the show- it has something called a cord and is plugged into the wall and doesn’t have the ability to do anything but allow people to talk to each other. Great concept!
The overall picture that Remy Bumppo paints in this dynamic entertainment is sheer magic in every way. Besides the quality direction and casting, each element is sheer perfection. The costumes (Emily Waeker), lighting (Mike Durst), original music/sound(Victoria Deiorio) added to the props and set make this a complete production. If you are into politics and have enjoyed shows like “The West Wing” and late night take son politics, this is one that will have you laughing at our system as well as thinking about how we allowed this to happen in the greatest country in the world.
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.
Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Wednesday,November 5th, special 7:30 p.m. performance
Tickets range from $42.50-$52.50 and are available by calling 773-404-7336 or online at www.remybumppo.org
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Both Your Houses”