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|A CurtainUp Review
George and Martha
By Amanda Cooper
Finley has chosen the two-performer model, bringing actor Neal Medlyn as George along for her self-written and directed ride. Though the performance is not without its insights into Bush and Stewart, the dialogue and staging spends too much time tripping over itself in an attempt to be casual yet revelatory.
Medlyn's Bush is not an idiot but simply a president who chooses not to think. His stage persona is decidedly Bush, from light Texan accent to frat-boy loafing mode. Finley's Martha is pushy and prudish, with a very visible sadistic streak. At times we hear Martha deepening her voice and inflecting her speech with Martha-esque monoton, but her persona shifts back to a more traditional Finley style and rhythm particularly during her monologues.
Some arrested development aspects made explicit show George being satiated by a baby bottle of beer and Martha using baby wipes to clean out her mouth after a presidential blow job. They are seen comforting each other by saying "be my baby" on loop. They also grill the other on life decisions and critique their respective parental relationships. At one point George wakes up screaming that Osama Bin Laden is inside him and Martha finds Bin Laden hiding in George's ass.
Biting and curious as these concepts are, they are strictly a performance artist's fantasy -- Finley's takes on two widely liked and disliked celebrities. While some ideas are repeated again and again, others are buried beneath word exchanges about current politics or Martha's approaching jail sentence, or brushed past in order to make room for more dependency-laden sex.
Midway through the production Martha declares "You know George, I should have called my magazine Dying. " One wonders how would the real Martha Stewart would feel about this suggestion. One also wonders why Finley has settled for an exploration and critique with too little life to avoid being brushed aside as another incoherent liberal attack on our current president.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co. Click image to buy.
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