Review: Red Ink’s “ObamaNation: Revised Edition!”

Despite fast dancing, ObamaNation! takes the easy road.

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Red Ink Theatre presents:

ObamaNation: Revised Edition! 

by 4 Days Late
directed by Erin Lane
thru November 20th (buy tickets)

reviewed by Paige Listerud

Red Ink Theatre, which delivered strong monologues from its actor/writers in its summer remount of iAlone, hasn’t pulled together the comedy revue it aspires to with their 4 Days Late production of ObamaNation! Revised Edition. A Second City-style revue with song and dance numbers critiquing the growing liberal dismay with the Obama administration, ObamaNation! comes across as grossly incomplete and flat.

ObamaNationRevisedPCFront[1] The revue still dwells on the surface disappointment over the recent state of non-change in US policy, both foreign and domestic. ObamaNation! doesn’t dig any deeper to explore why we would set our hopes so messianically high on Obama, only to have them inevitably dashed. Or why we believed that life under a bought-and-paid-for Congress would be different just because the Democrats hold the majority.

Furthermore, it’s a revue that pulls all its punches. Perhaps the comics are under the same fear of being accused of racism that they bring up during the show or maybe there is still not enough skill to turn heavy and significant matter into light, fast, wicked satire.

The best that can be said is that dancing to hit tunes as political commentary is probably the most successful feature of the revue. In which case, a special nod goes to choreographer John Gilmour and the efforts of those in the troupe who selected the songs. As for written material, it’s back to the drawing board for another revision. Most comedy evolves from pain. Perhaps 4 Days Late needs to delve into the pain of hope denied.

Rating: ««

 

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Review: Red Ink Theatre’s “iAlone”

Red Ink Theatre’s iAlone remounted at The Artistic Home

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Nathan Stone, Erin Lane, Brian Bush, and Anna Schlegel of Red Ink Theatre reprise these actor-written monologues, which met with success during their first performances at The Spot in 2008 and again at the Abbie Hoffman Festival at the Mary Arrchie Theatre. While self-exposure is very much the name of the game in iAlone, rigorous artistic discipline prevents these young monologists from spiraling into navel gazing and self-pity. The best monologs are lively, descriptive, full of youthful yearning, while at the same time maintain an unsentimental clarity about those tendencies that lead to self-victimization.

Erin Lane, presently performing in Red Ink Theatre's "iAlone" “Eating 4 One” by Erin Lane is the most powerful and unforgettable monolog of the bunch. Following on the heels of “Dave,” a monolog about Lane’s downwardly mobile boyfriend, “Eating 4 One” relates her accidental pregnancy, resulting from their last evening of sexual intercourse before the breakup. In this era of dangerous abortion politics, who would dare expect in the theater an admission of an abortion being practically therapeutic in the life of a young woman? Yet Lane’s progress from being wronged by her boyfriend and betrayed by contraception, to self-assertion and self-preservation defies expectations. Even though, by the end of the abortion, the relationship with Dave clearly is on its last legs, the audience knows she will survive anything.

Nathan Stoner, currently performing in Red Ink Theatre's "iAlone" Nathan Stoner brings the greatest whimsy and playfulness to the stage with “Hide and Seek” and “My Boys;” the first being a meditation on the power of pop tunes to inform any romance with wistful, dreamlike qualities, and the second reveals the homoerotic awakening of a 12 year-old boy in a hot tub with his brother’s straight friends. Stoner adds much needed levity to this production, since the other monologists produce material that is much heavier in style and substance.

Anna Schlegel, currently performing in Red Ink Theatre's "iAlone" With “Enlightenment,” Anna Schlegel exposes so much of her own erotic intensity, and its capacity to make her betray herself, that one fears for her, until “Burn One Down” reveals her own happy ending—a lover who appreciates all her aspects, from lust for life, to sloppy slouching around on weekend mornings.

Of all the monologs on addiction, Brian Bush’s Tiny Hooks” stands out. It seems the perfect climax for a guy that has sought out emotionally unattached sexual encounters and now finds himself used by them. He both desperately needs, yet desperately dreads his weekly encounters with a prostitute and her tiny hooks.

Brian Bush, currently performing in Red Ink Theatre's "iAlone"Set design for this production is rudimentary at best and might serve more as a distraction than fulfillment the original premise. The premise being that both audience and performers, sitting together on the el, are distracted and distanced from one another by iPod usage—yet everyone has their untold stories and secret burdens. The seats for the “el” are the crudest plywood; the “el” doors opening and shutting remind one of the cheap, makeshift set of the first Star Trek series. But I hope the performers know that their monologs are strong enough to stand alone, without this conceit. Or that the same effect might be achieved with lighting and sound alone—something to consider when weighing the costs of production for a small theater company.

Rating: «««

When:  Thurs – Saturday 8pm, Sundays 3pm
Dates: May 28th – June 27th
Where:   Artistic Home Theatre, 3914 N. Clark
Tickets:  $15, (buy tickets)

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