by Rebecca Nimerfroh
Think Mad Men’s Donald Draper and Roger Sterling, hashing it out with loosened ties and wrinkled suits, bouncing ideas off each other in rapid-fire succession. But instead of advertising, their banter is rip-roaringly funny, and pertaining to a whole different ballgame, albeit not too different: American politics.
This is just the scene of the no-holds-barred, hilariously funny play November, written by David Mamet and produced by the Theatre Workshop of Nantucket. Set on the day of the famous Presidential turkey pardon, President Charles Smith is nearly at his breaking point. It’s re-election, and the numbers aren’t great. In fact, they’re downright awful, and the First Lady is already planning the library of their new home once they vacate the White House. Luckily the President has his right-hand man at his side, the cool and collected Archer Brown who serves as both a hilarious and deadpan sounding board for the President’s crazy ideas as he scrambles to win back the admiration of the American people and secure his future as the leader of the free world.
Directed by Dan Foster, and led with strong performances by Paul Carlin as President and Fritz Michel as Archer, this play feels as though it could have been written this very morning, pertaining to so many current “hot topics,” leaving no stone unturned. Archer tells the President at one point, “We can’t build the fence to keep out the illegal immigrants” and the President asks, “Why not?” Archer replies, “You need illegal immigrants to build the fence.” Gay Marriage plays a huge role as well, when speech writer Clarice Bernstein (played excellently by Kate Splaine) is summoned to the Oval Office with the hefty task of coming up with words for the President to use to win again the votes of the people, but says she will only do so if he agrees to marry her and her lesbian partner. He says yes, all the while back-stepping after she shows up to his office the next day with her partner—both in wedding gowns. While this is happening, the President and Archer (desperate for funding) brainstorm a way to get cash, and decide it can easily be done by increasing the asking price of the Turkey Pardon, upsetting and unnerving the representative of the National Association of Turkey Products (played by A.T. Wilce) who is on site for the press-covered tradition.
Everyone is in an uproar and the President gets backed into a corner of his own design, especially when he upsets Dwight Grackle, an angry Indian Chieftain, played by Adam Noonan. The laughs continue, more so after intermission when it seems as though anything goes, and it certainly does.
“I always thought I’d do something memorable. I assumed it would be getting impeached!” the President exclaims. And as an audience member you can only watch and laugh, and wonder, or hope, that this is not what it’s really like inside that famous oval office.
November is playing until September 24. For tickets, call 508-228-4305 or visit theatreworkshop.com.