The Great Election
The idea of staging Canadian humorist Stephen Leacocks early 1900s comedy about a corrupt election in a small town seems like it should be a natural right now, what with all the chaos and turmoil of our own current national campaign. Unfortunately, though, director John Starks slapdash production of Leacocks irritatingly dated play suffers from such a weak comic sensibility that it comes across as clumsy rather than timely. In Pahrump, Nevada, the townsfolk launch a recall election against sleazy state Senator Bagshaw (Martin Clark), a buggy-eyed old coot and multiterm-serving Democrat. The Pahrump Republicans desperately desire to steal the seat and put up local casino- and tavern-owner Josh Smith (John Combs), a cigar-chewing, whiskered reprobate who hypocritically runs on the Temperance and Prohibition platform. To promote his campaign, Smith temporarily turns his bar into a health-food restaurant and he even wins an endorsement from the towns pruny preacher (Lynn Wanlass). Much corrupt behavior ensues. Leacocks attempts to evoke folksy satire come across as patronizing and steeped in tired hick stereotypes. The plays hillbilly-lite atmosphere is so cheesy, Hee Haw looks like The West Wing by comparison. The plots a muddle thats impossible to follow while director Starks unfocused direction has the performers shuffling through or mumbling over the works corny jokes so that theyre barely discernible. This may actually be an act of charity.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Sept. 18. Continues through Oct. 12, 2008
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