BWW Review: HATTheatre's HILLARY AND CLINTON: Affairs, Rivalries and a Soupçon of Sci-Fi

BWW Review: HATTheatre's HILLARY AND CLINTON: Affairs, Rivalries and a Soupçon of Sci-Fi
Photo by Tom Topinka
*Review by Brent Deekens
Full Disclaimer: This play only has two performances left - 8 PM on Saturday the 11th, and a matinee on Sunday the 12th at 2:00 PM - so get your tickets quickly before they're gone.
I must briefly muse on the fact that this is the second play I've seen which features a lady named Hillary Clinton as a leading character.
The first instance was with the hilarious Clinton: The Musical at the New World Stages Off-Broadway in 2015, featuring Richmond-native Duke Lafoon as Billy Clinton (look up the original cast recording; it's a scream). This satire chronicled Hillary Clinton's efforts to reform healthcare in the mid to late 1990s despite the President's highly-publicized indiscretions.
Now this play, a kind of seriocomedy written by Lucas Hnath, is also about the Clintons... and yet it isn't.
This piece is an interesting amalgamation of political intrigue and a science-fiction contrivance that takes us quite-literally out of this world.
The action involves an alternate reality at an opposite corner of the universe. Upon an alternate Earth, within an alternate state of New Hampshire, alternate versions of Bill (the hilarious Jeff Clevenger) and Hillary Clinton (a poised Patricia Alli) face off against the primary challenger (billed here only as "The Other Guy") in January of 2008. Set entirely within a glossily white hotel room that could be reminiscent of the Star Gate's end destination in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Hillary's chief strategist Mark (Billy-Christopher Maupin in an enjoyably frazzled performance) pits himself against sets of opposing views on how best Hillary can apply herself to the sensibilities of the voting public.
The characters wrangle and snap at one another with jeering perspicacity, and yet no one can altogether approximate the definitive plan as to how she can win. And when "The Other Guy" arrives to further complicate the proceedings (played with cunning sense of serenity by Waleed Sami), Hillary and Bill are forced to simply gaze into the heavens to philosophize over their places in whatever world they or their infinite number of cosmic iterations might inhabit.
With a willing cast under the credibly speedy direction of Deejay Gray (also the set and costume designer), this play can serve as an allegory applicable to any politician, real or fictitious, on how they should or should not present their image. It also succeeds by not giving the audience stock caricatures; we're shown very human, empathetic characters who openly-acknowledge their prime strengths and discouraging areas of ineptitude. Casting actors who look nothing like their real-life counterparts should also assist in expunging some possible feelings of cognitive dissonance that a random onlooker could have for these characters before the show begins. Indeed, a person of any political affiliation can enjoy this play with an open mind.
Vickie Lynn Scallion and her team at HATTheatre have assisted Mr. Gray and company in giving us a charmingly quaint and timely parable on politics as a personal and public entity. My only gripe is that I wish this had a longer run! Do see it this weekend while you still have the chance!

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