REVIEW: Brave New Workshop gets a head start on the political season with satire that jabs at both sides.
Late July seems an odd time for the Brave New Workshop to launch its election show. We haven't even gotten to the Fringe Festival yet, much less the political party conventions and Labor Day.
But given America's everlasting presidential campaign of the past decade, perhaps it makes perfect sense to dig into politics during the steamy days of summer. We know who the candidates are, what they are going to say and how they are going to say it. So bring on the satire.
The Workshop kicked off "The Rainbow Election; or, Mommies and Mormons and Gays, Oh My!" Friday night in downtown Minneapolis. The sharpest pieces got at the dishonest mental gymnastics necessary to own and disown issues that have fallen out of favor.
Right out of the box, a sketch shows Obama's handlers and Romney's handlers using the same words and same issues to get their candidates' message right. On health care, Romney has to wrap his mind around the idea that he's railing against a plan he championed in Massachusetts. Obama has to come to terms with promoting ideas the Republicans had in 1993. Andy Hilbrands plays awkward confusion as the president, and Bobby Gardner gets to stretch out as puzzled Mitt.
A focus-group sketch demonstrates that dishonesty is not the exclusive purview of politicians. Assign the same set of attributes to different candidates and watch as good and evil become malleable reactions. Interestingly, this sketch riled one woman so much that she hit the exit in the following blackout. Ah, politics. If it's good for nothing else, it's good for arguments.
Lauren Anderson and Josh Eakright are cast veterans who do their usual energetic job with spot-on characters and instincts for those moments when it's time to take the insanity up a notch. Matt Erkel and Taj Ruler have great personality.
Somehow, though, the sketches in this show have gotten longer and longer. It used to be that if there was a bit that didn't hit, it was over soon enough and we were on to the next. Several of the pieces that opened Friday night never landed -- but went on and on. Best intentions aside, the Workshop rarely hits on every cylinder and this show is no exception. Comedy and satire is tough work (have you ever watched "Saturday Night Live" and fallen asleep by 11 p.m.?).
So let the political season begin -- or, rather, continue. This stuff will be with us until November. Of 2025.
Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299