The Last Liberal, presented by Dramatic Women. At Center Stage Theater, Saturday, February 18. Shows through February 25.
Reviewed by Carlos Morton Playwright Bob Potter has written a thought-provoking play, what he calls “a fable for our times.” Set in the not-too-distant future (2042), liberals are an endangered species, hunted down like buffalo by testy, trigger fingered neo-cons like Dick Cheney. It is a brave new world ruled by a 134-year-old president named “Dubya 3.0” who has been cloned, played for laughs by Austin Stark, and coached by a trinity of evil handlers with hilarious names such as Condominia Littlehawk Chung-Mendoza (Nanci Mendez), Baron T. Scarpia (Brian Hansen), and Reverend Tommy (Robert Riechel), who is a fascinating blend of attorney general and chief justice. Good idea — a judge and executioner in one! The last two card-carrying democrats left in the land are living on the street, homeless and without jobs. Jeff (Martin Bell) and Mutt (Tiffany Story), a not-so-happily married couple, argue as to who can rightfully claim to be “the last liberal.” They are soon caught up in a dragnet, with one sentenced to Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the other to Guantanamo, Cuba. This leads to an Orwellian situation in which their love for each other is severely tested. They encounter a mysterious waiter/secret agent named “Wild Card,” played with sardonic wit and timing by Joseph Velasco. Add two Valley Girl clones (Brittany Conyers and Marissa Casados) who will say anything you put in their empty heads, and you’ve got the makings of madcap farce with a political bite. The production is nicely complemented by the practical set and lighting design of Vickie J. Scott, costumes by Ellen McBride Sheppard, and masks by Ann Chevrefils. My only critique is that the production seemed static at times, as too often the actors merely stood in one place and talked. More movement from director Heather Ondersma would have aided the farcical elements inherent in the script. Nonetheless, this is an enjoyable play by Dramatic Women Productions at Center Stage with a provocative comic premise.