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A CurtainUp Review
Tail! Spin!

The act of singing expresses your vulnerability, and at the same time is a very humanizing act. It changes the whole character of politics. — Senator Larry Craig
Tail! Spin!
Sean Dugan and Rachel Dratch (Photo: Carol Rosegg)
I suspect that vintage movie buffs are much too smart to think that the play that has just opened at the Lynn Redgrave Theater is a stage version of the exciting 1939 film Tail Spin about female pilots that starred Alice Faye and Constance Bennett. So let's move right on and say that with the two added exclamation points attached, the title of the unrelated play is by Mario Correa. His play is, however, piloted by four real-life also daring, but mainly dopey political hotshots whose careers unsurprisingly take a nose dive after they are revealed as being lying, unfaithful, deceitful, and remarkably stupid.

But wait, sometimes making a comeback is part of the fun as it happens to some of them in this play that is also making a comeback. It was the surprise hit two years ago at the New York Theatre Fringe Festival.

Helping to keep these guys in check or at least in close proximity as their words (verbatim) and actions (validated) is former Saturday Night Live comedic star Rachel Dratch. Changing personalities and personages with the speed of light, this petite performer with looks that linger interacts with them in a range of roles aptly labeled "Wives, Tails, Beards & Barbara Walters." She and the four excellent and versatile male actors share the red, white and blue stage setting comprised of five chairs, a lectern and a symbolic eagle. The big bird's grotesquely altered shape, under close scrutiny, allows for a personal comment by set and projection designer Caite Hevner Kemp.

Tail! Spin! is nothing more, but no less than a very funny and also somewhat very pathetic (depending on your perspective), series of sketches/skits that chronicle the extremely bad behavior of four prominent politicos. For those who care and wish to rehash the sordid digressions of those we misguidedly elected, this is a fast-moving refresher course.

So you may want to sit back and enjoy the graphic Facebook closeups and egregiously facetious twittering of New York congressman Anthony Weiner (Nate Smith). . . the soul-searching trek to Argentina by South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (Tom Galantich) who left word that he was on the Appalachian Trail. . . the sexting messaging that occurred between Republican representative from Florida Mark Foley (Arnie Burton) and an underage congressional page. Last, but not at all least, is the indiscretion in the Minneapolis Airport's men's room committed by Republican senator Larry Craig (Sean Dugan) who said in his defense — I'll stop right there not to be a spoiler.

I won't spoil anything by adding that I am inclined to feel pity if not sympathy for arrogant Craig when he tries his best to explain to the arresting police officer and the court of inquiry "I'm fairly wide guy. I had to spread my legs," or feel the smart ass Weiner's pain when he implies that "Photos can be of one thing changed to look like something else."

Some of what is revealed is not strictly for laughs but earns our concern as we listen to Foley's excuse for his conduct to Sean Hannity ("It emanated from the sexual abuse that I received from a priest. I was 11 years-old "). One of the biggest howlers comes from double-talking Sanford in his run for office (" South Carolina needs a return to real, honest leadership in the governor's office"). All the above is a small sampling of what comes at us fast and furious in seventy-five minutes of Q & A, dings and tweets, testimony and acrimony with no intermission. The fun to be had is not only seeing how spot-on the male actors are in their primary portrayals, but also how they are also used by the play's clever director Dan Knechtges as peripheral character such as prosecutors, police officers, announcers, TV personalities, and other politicians.

Dratch, of course, is kept busy playing all the females who range from the collection of delusional yet devoted wives to an uproarious dippy stripper who insists under questioning, "No, I am not a stripper. I am a PERSON that strips sometimes... Stop slut shaming." She also plays the various recipients of Weiner's largesse without the least regard for subtlety and the most regard for getting the message across for a laugh. What more could you want or expect from a play in which a lot of bad behavior is bound to get your goat, but also calculated to get your vote.

Tail! Spin! by Mario Correa
Directed by Dan Knechtges
Cast: Arnie Burton (Mark Foley, et al), Rachel Dratch (Wives, Tails, Beards and Barbara Walters), Sean Dugan (Larry Craig, et al), Tom Galantich (Mark Sanford), Nate Smith (Anthony Weiner et al)
Scenic & Projection Design: Caite Hevner Kemp
Costume Design: Jennifer Caprio
Lighting Design: Ryan O'Gara
Sound Design: John Emmett O'Brien
Production Stage Manager: Trisha Henson
Running Time: 1 hour 15 minutes no intermission
Lynn Redgrave Theater at Culture Project at 45 Bleecker Street at Lafayette
Tickets: $25-$75, with premium seating available for $95 (inclusive of a $1.25 theater facility fee), can be arranged online at, by calling (866) 811-4111
Performances: Tuesday - Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 3pm & 8pm; Sunday at 2pm & 5:30pm.
From 09/18/14 Opened 10/01/14 Ends 11/08/14-- Extended to 2/01/15 -- that extension changed to a 1/04/15 closing.
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 09/27/14
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