BWW Review: THE TAMING at Synchronicity Theatre Brings Light and Levity to Today's Political Climate
What do you get when you lock a patriotic Beauty Queen, a hard-nosed conservative political staffer, and a bleeding heart liberal blogger together in a hotel room? For most of us in today's politically charged climate, it sounds like a nightmare. THE TAMING by Lauren Gunderson, now playing as part of Synchronicity Theatre's 20th Anniversary season, manages to shine a hysterical light on this tense situation in a way that makes the audience take an introspective look at how we are interact with each other in real life, with a distinct reminder that maybe we aren't so different from our Founding Fathers after all.
The tone for the evening is set when you walk into the intimate staging room at the Synchronicity Theatre. Folksy American tunes play over the speakers, preparing the audience for the story to come. We get introduced to three characters, through a series of monologues. Katherine (Caroline Arapoglou), the current Miss Georgia, complete with perfect Southern accent and bedazzled outfit that would make Lady Liberty say, "Maybe take it down a notch?" She's loud and proud with a desperate desire to rewrite the Constitution in a matter of hours before the Miss America pageant. She needs ideas - and will go to an extreme to get them, by tricking two political rivals and locking them in a hotel room until she sees results.
We next see Patricia (Kelly Criss), the Chief of Staff for a powerful Republican Senator, who is determined to get her Senator's bill passed through Congress and blaze a path to the White House. There's only three things standing in the way of that: the fact that she's been locked in a strange hotel room, she's lost her pants - and that someone has threatened to share incriminating information about her Senator that could place her whole plan in jeopardy. Enter Bianca (Jimmica Collins), the nature loving liberal blogger and self-described Social Media Warrior. Bianca is on a mission to compromise Patricia's bill with just one tweet - unless, Patricia is willing to rethink the portion that harms the cause Bianca cares about most: saving the population of the Giant Panda Pygmy Shrew from extinction. Yes, you read that right. Rodent jokes abound.
All three actresses explore their roles in a way that makes the audience recognize a similar character in their own life. Patricia is the shrewd conservative and defender of liberty who owns a lab named Reagan. She thinks that she is truly affecting meaningful change to the country, but serves a Senator and a system that constantly let her down. Bianca thinks she can truly affect change by gathering as many retweets as possible. Caroline is revealed to be the culprit that brought them all together in this hotel room...she loves America so much that she wants to rewrite its Constitution in a matter of hours. All three characters are loud, fast talking, and speaking over each other as Bianca and Patricia disagree on everything, and Catherine tries to keep the peace - a device use inventively by director Suehyla El-Attar. Sound like any political conversations you've had recently?
The play takes an interesting turn as the second act begins, and the characters are mysteriously transformed from their 2018 hotel room, to the Constitutional Convention. Each actress takes on the name of a different Founding Father, in a scene that is sure to help us understand that even Washington and Madison had their issues on compromise. One of the more hysterical moments of the show comes with Arapoglou's portrayal of George Washington not as a revered and respected General, but with the personality and mannerisms of a Whiskey loving frat boy.
Throughout the play, the theme of compromise continues to shape the plot. The ending arrives rather quickly, with Patricia realizing that despite her best efforts to help people, individuals like her philandering boss should not be the people that we trust in our government, and Bianca goes through with releasing the incriminating tweets. Katherine prepares for the pageant - with only a few hours to spare, she realizes her ultimate goal of rewriting the Constitution will have to wait. For now, she will just have to use her platform to bring people of all viewpoints together. Although the pageant is not shown, the audience views a video of Katherine's answer on a screen that lowers from the ceiling. It's meant to be as though the audience was viewing the pageant on television, but it lost something in translation to the screen. It may have been better to have the actress just deliver these lines on a bare stage.
Without spoiling the very final scene, I can say that the wild experience these three young women experience leaves them reevaluating the way that they have been attempting to change the world. Maybe, in fact, we should actually put aside our differences to find some common ground. Even though we are inundated with partisan politics and talking heads in our daily lives, I'd recommend this play for a refreshing view on how to interact with each other in today's world. If only some of our real-life politicians would take a hint. Maybe they should come see this play.
The cast includes Atlanta-based actors Kelly Criss as Patricia, Jimmica Collins as Bianca, and Caroline Arapoglou as Katherine. THE TAMING is directed by Suehyla El-Attar, and features scenic design by Shannon Robert, Costume Design by Cole Spivia, Sound Design by Dan Bauman, Lighting Design by Elisabeth Cooper and Properties Design by Jillian Haughey.
Show times for THE TAMING are Wednesdays to Saturdays at 8:00pm, and Sundays at 5:00pm. All performances will be at Synchronicity Theatre in Midtown Atlanta's Peachtree Pointe complex. Single ticket prices range from $26-40 and are available online at www.synchrontheatre.com.