#200. I still remember memorizing this red social studies leaflet in the fourth grade. It was short biographies on all the presidents. Our homework was to be able to recite each name with a little tidbit. It was a great party trick for years to be able to recall the original 37 leaders plus update with the newbies. I’ve since let go of the history lesson so revisiting the Commander-in-Chiefs was both nostalgic and provocative.
The Neo-Futurists presents the remounted and updated 44 PLAYS FOR 44 PRESIDENTS. This Neo-blockbuster was originally performed in 2002 as “43 Plays for 43 Presidents.” It chronicles the United States history in Vaudevillian style. Each leader is remembered with a song, sketch, dance or bread-eating. This is the way history should be recalled... jammed out with pithy humor and candid humanity. 44 PLAYS FOR 44 PRESIDENTS rocks the West Wing’s world! This Oval Office is on fire!
Writers Andy Bayiates, Sean Benjamin, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Chloe Johnston and Karen Weinberg took 225+ years of political malarkey and condensed it down into 120 minutes of hilarity. The writing cleverly introduces each President with individual and distinct style. Under the direction of Halena Kays, the mega-talented 6-person cast (Joe Dempsey, Bilal Dardai, Rawson Vint, Dina Marie Walters, Ryan Walters, Rani Waterman) get presidential! As the countdown continues, video projections (Michael Fernandez) introduce the new President with a picture. Simultaneously, an ensemble member dons the Head of State’s coat. In addition, center stage is the makings of a map of the United States. As a President influences USA growth, geographic puzzle pieces are added. This imagery was a powerful tool. The play actually showcases important factoids of our country’s past while completely making fun of it.
This is slick SNL buffoonery. One of my favorite sketches is Thomas Jefferson being completely annihilated by Benjamin Franklin in a roast-style game show. Hysterical! 44 PLAYS FOR 44 PRESIDENTS is the perfect political diversion in these final days of election hoopla. The only speed bump I had with 44 PLAYS FOR 44 PRESIDENTS had nothing to do with the play. It was the startling realization of how many one term Presidents there have been. Yikes! Sorry, Neo-Futurists, I’m not ready for a “45 Plays for 45 Presidents” before 2017.
Running Time: Two hours includes an intermission
At The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland
Written by Andy Bayiates, Sean Benjamin, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Chloe Johnston and Karen Weinberg
Directed by Halena Kays
Musical direction by Mike Przygoda
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm
October 21st and 28th, November 4th at 3pm
EXTENDED Thru November 17th
Buy Tickets at www.neofuturists.org
Photos by Maggie Fullilove-Nugent