As anyone who read my post on Memorial Day can tell, I really love America. The Revolutionary War mesmerizes me. Seriously, I’m not even joking right now. In fact, I love the Revolutionary War so much that I wrote a speech about it in middle school. Yes, in the eighth grade, I created an identity for myself as the daughter of a colonist and brought the tea party to life from the eyes of a teenager. Still to this day, Boston is my favorite city in the United States and at some point I will call it my home. Maybe next year, maybe ten years from now. And, if I’m being completely honest, I’m sure my support of the Red Sox has something to do with my Revolutionary War obsession (side bar: I am not discussing the most recent Red Sox trades right now, as Josh Beckett was my boyfriend).
It won’t surprise you to find out that my love for America extends to the political system. Now, calm down, people. I’m not saying I adore the abomination that our government has become where we hold ideas hostage purely to make a stand, or destroy our own credit rating, I’m talking about the idea that we can seamlessly transition power without revolution, and that people are able to shout their feelings about President Obama and Governor Romney from the rooftops without fear of persecution. Yes, I was a political science major in undergrad, so my obsession with all things political only deepened during those four years.
Now you may be asking yourself (as most of my readers usually do), “RWB, what in the world does your nerd obsession have to do with your review?” Well, dear readers, I will tell you, if you are politically versed, or are looking for a place to take a politico on a date, Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins at Arena Stage in the Waterfront district is for you.
Now, I need to make a disclaimer before starting this review. I am a conservative. As anyone familiar with political commentators and journalists knows, Molly Ivins was anything but. In fact, she was quite the opposite of a conservative and made her career on being the liberal voice of deep Texas. However, despite my being a conservative, I am open-minded (it’s okay you can bring your jaw back up now, yes open-minded conservatives exist) and appreciate seeing things from another point of view. And, as anyone who is familiar with politics knows, Texas politics are a whole different breed. So regardless of your Party affiliation, you’ll be entertained with some of the stories alone (guns, God, and freedom, y’all!)
I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked in to Arena Stage. As I said before, I knew Molly Ivins was a reporter, and I knew she was a spitfire liberal. Now, as a spitfire myself, I was prepared for witty banter and coarse language. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the raw emotion or call to action.
For starters, Kathleen Turner makes a wonderful Molly Ivins. She is tall and proud; her red cowgirl boots only further authenticate her as “Molly.” My only complaint is that her accent is forced and inconsistent. Now, I am also a southern accent snob and the sound of a faked accent sticks out like a sore thumb. So to most of you, the accent will sound just fine. But, I have to be honest, while her accent is unnatural, her vernacular is spot on.
"You can't ignore politics no matter how
much you'd like to."
You will notice that the stage is simply decorated to look like a newsroom, and only Molly’s desk is moved forward. And the event is more of a dialogue or a presentation and not “theater” per say. Molly speaks to the audience about herself in a colloquial way, as if she is having a conversation with you. There is no communication with other characters, or set changes. Instead, it’s Molly telling the audience about her life. The show is essentially a highlight reel through Molly’s years.
Red Hot Patriot starts with a description of Molly’s adolescent upbringing in a conservative Texas family, complete with proper pre-dinner family cocktails, debutante balls, and Smith College. The audience then follows along with Molly after leaving Smith College, when she begins her life as a liberal journalist with stints in the Midwest, Northeast, and other Texan publications before ending up at the Texas Observer. While she famously penned Elvis Presley’s obituary for the New York Times, her notorious colorful writing was not appreciated in the northeast and she moved on, eventually landing at the Observer.
Now fellow conservatives, beware, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush are called out at several points during the presentation. But, despite my conservative roots, I found myself giggling along, and if you are open to criticism of “our kind” you will laugh, too. For instance, how can you not laugh out loud (yes, I almost snorted) when the lead character suggests that the United States change our symbol from an Eagle to a red white and blue condom because it covers inflation and protects us from pricks? Plus when someone comments, “Fish gotta swim and hearts gotta bleed,” smiling is a natural reaction.
The audience also gets a look into Molly’s personal life, from learning about the death of the two loves of her life, and her complicated relationship with her father, to her dog, and eventually her dealing with terminal breast cancer. But, out of all the information presented, the biggest surprise to me was the call to action that comes at the very end.
As the show draws to a close (a very quick 75 minutes later) the audience is challenged. Regardless of party, audience members are encouraged to have a voice and take action. As a political science major that has canvassed, campaigned, and conducted more voter registration drives than most people can imagine, I can’t tell you how much I agree.
This show is perfect for those living in D.C. during an election year. Even as a conservative, I was able to appreciate the homage to Ivins, a journalistic icon. If you’re looking for a perfect date night, and you (or your date) are passionate for politics, Red Hot Patriot at Arena Stage is for you.
For those unfamiliar, Arena Stage is near the SW Waterfront, easily accessible by the Green/Yellow lines or by car. I was able to find street parking right by the theater. And, if you’re looking for a nice complete dinner and show date, why not check out Cantina Marina for cocktails (I highly recommend their Silver Hurricane) or Phillips Seafood House for dinner (shocking, the Maryland girl sends you to a place with delicious crab cakes).
The show is running through October 28 in the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle. Tickets and up-to-date information are available by visiting http://arenastage.org/shows-tickets/the-season/productions/red-hot-patriot/
Yours in All Things Patriotic,