Saturday, October 27, 2012

"Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins"

Rhonda Brown as Molly Ivins.  Photo Credit:  Ryan Gaddis, The LIDA Project

Playwrights:  Margaret and Allison Engel

VenueThe Laundry on Lawrence, 2701 Lawrence Street, Denver CO

CompanyThe LIDA Project

Date of Performance:  Saturday, October 27, 2012

Running Time:  85 minutes (no intermission).

First, I need to make something abundantly clear.  Molly Ivins was a liberal columnist.  This script is taken from some of her best writing.  It’s political.  Given the deep political divisions these days, roughly half the population would have no interest in the “kick ass” wit of anyone not of their political tribe.  So if you’re a conservative who didn’t or wouldn’t read Ivins under any circumstances, this show probably isn’t for you.

It’s for the rest of us.  And we LOVE it.

If you are not familiar with Ivins, she was a Texas liberal.   Yes, there is such a thing, but they should probably be on a “Politically Endangered List.”  Ivins delighted in the abundant material the Texas Republican Party showered upon her.  In return, she skewered them in print, working, at one time or another, at the HoustonChronicle (the “Cronk”), the TexasObserver, the New York Times, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.  Her column was syndicated to more than 300 other newspapers.

Rhonda Brown plays Ivins in what amounts to a one-woman show.  Carrying the entire show is a huge responsibility for any actor, but Brown nails it.  She becomes Ivins on the stage.  She has the Texas accent, the piss and the vinegar, and the comic timing to pull off Ivins.  Standing ovations are all too common, but Brown gets one here for bringing Ivins to life.  This standing ovation was sincere, immediate, and well earned.

The script could have been called “Molly Ivins Greatest Hits,” but that show would have run for days, not just 85 minutes.  I laughed until tears were running down my cheeks.  Yes.  It’s THAT funny.  I see a lot of theater, but rarely do I leave with my sides hurting from laughter.  Presuming you’re in the demographic that finds some humor in the antics of your political rivals, you’ll be laughing just as hard as I was.

Conservatives will not be as amused.  However, that could be because no one is ever going to write about the “kick ass” wit of the right leaning writers out there.  Think about it.  “The Kick Ass Wit of Ann Coulter?”  Not going to happen.  How about “The Best of Right Wing Humor featuring Ann Coulter?”  Nope.  How about “The Comedic Genius of Rush Limbaugh?”  Hardly.  I could go on, but I think I made the point.  Ivins was as unique as she was talented.

Ivins used jokes because they made people “open their ears.”  Not many writers or pundits use humor of any kind anymore.  It’s been replaced with hyperbole, distortion, insults, and volume. And we’re poorer for it.

We still need Molly…or at least someone like her.  As she taught us, we have more political power than any population in any country in history.  We’d be wise to make better use of that power.

Don’t take my word for it.  Whether you’re curious, interested, or passionate about the liberal political viewpoint, DO NOT miss this show.  It’s a very limited run, and the tickets will not last.  If you miss it, you will have missed a rare and wonderful theater experience.

This show is scheduled for an extremely limited run (October 25-28).  All the performances are sold out.  However, the run has been extended at the Aurora Fox for six additional performances (November 2-10).  If you’re interested in this production, get your tickets as far in advance as possible.  It will almost certainly sell out for the extended run.

Director/Artistic Director:  Brian Freeland  

Projection Designers:  Brian Freeland, Maya Ciarrocchi

Sound Designer:  Maximillian Peterson

Lighting Design:  Jacob Welch


Molly Ivins:  Rhonda Brown

The Helper:  Rhea Amos

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