BWW Review: OVER THE LEGE PART 4: THE HOUSE AWAKENS Brings Texas State Politics Center Stage at The Rollins Theatre
Most Americans would agree that our nation's current political climate is the most polarizing in recent history. With tweets, platforms and blurred party values arguably breaking down on a national level, ask anyone off the street how they like to party, and you'll know by the color of their plastic cup - red or blue. More interestingly and apparent is the lack of knowledge the average person has on what is going on in their backyard. The policies that affect Americans the most, will be felt more directly on the local level. While the national political stage may define the color of the dyed plastic in your hand, local politicians are the ones who hand you your drink. Focusing exclusively on the absurdity of Texas politics, OVER THE LEGE PART 4: THE HOUSE AWAKENS is a series of satirical political sketch and variety acts, revealing the ridiculousness that is happening in Austinites' backyard.
Clearly a passion project of Stephanie Chiarello and ensemble, OVER THE LEGE, brings together sketch, song & dance and improvisation to educate and dare the audience to learn more about their local politics and just as important - local politicians. Extremely original and personal at its core, OVER THE LEGE is written exclusively with the left hand. That is to say, the pendulum swings from the center and to the left of center. With sketches unafraid to tackle hard topics, like voting registration bias, gun control (or lack thereof) and corruption, all scenes are rooted in reality and excellently expose the foolish and sometimes nonsensical policies and actions taken by the Texas Legislature and those clamoring to get inside. Beginning with a well-performed monologue from Chiarello herself, the knowledge and interest of the local political scene is apparent.Spotlighting a recent voter registration policy that essentially blacklisted many Texans from voting, "So You Think You Can Vote?" is hosted by loved Texas mascot Buc-ee the Beaver (played hilariously by Aaron Salinas) interviewing a panel of judges. The panel stars Governor Greg Abbott sandwiched between a literal snake man and a proud "Gun Holding Mama". Contestants answer questions from the outlandish panel that clearly point to the rampant racist motives behind voting registration requirements. As the first sketch of the show, the audience gains a clearer picture of the peaks and valleys ahead. Another notable sketch is "The Gothics", based on the classic modern painting "American Gothic" by Grant Wood. Brandishing the classic pitchfork and simple clothing, Tom Booker and Janet Maykus deliver an extremely funny political lesson while breaking down the scandal of corruption at the top. Light-hearted singing and dancing elevate the show from beyond sketch comedy to a full-on variety show.
Sprinkled between the gags that landed, some unfortunately fell flat. The momentum gained from the high energy scenes, deflates quickly from dead space created by scene changes. While OVER THE LEGE PART 4: THE HOUSE AWAKENS certainly wins the vote, tighter direction would have turned it into a landslide victory. However, the overall concept and execution of writing, performing and directing is no easy feat - the hard work and passion is clear during the 2 hour duration of the show. The cherry on top of the large local political sundae, is a live interview with a local representative. Opening night featured Celia Israel, a local member of the House of Representatives. Israel was charming in her blunt sentiments and impressed upon the audience the reality of bipartisan politics in Texas. Entertaining, enthusiastic and knowledgeable, the special guest portion is reason enough to head to the Rollins Theatre in Downtown, Austin. Right along the campaign trail from the Texas State Capitol, OVER THE LEGE PART 4: THE HOUSE AWAKENS announces it's bid for the ultimate satire this weekend.
OVER THE LEGE PART 4: THE HOUSE AWAKENS
September 20th - September 29th (8:00PM & 2:00PM matinee)
For tickets please visit:
Photo Credit: Vanessa Fuentes