note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Carl A. Rossi
Hillary Rodham Clinton; Woman One Ö Heidi Dallin
Monica Lewinsky; Woman Two Ö Jacqueline Kristel
Betty Currie; Woman Three Ö Vanessa Shaw
Secret Service Agent; William Jefferson Clinton; Man One Ö Jeff Pierce
HILLARY AND MONICA: THE WINTER OF HER DISCONTENT, at the Gloucester Stage, is Yvette Heyligerís proposed catfight between First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and intern Monica Lewinsky in the China Room at the White House in 1996, just before the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal hit the fan. The rivals begin as cat-and-mouse and end up as raging tigresses over the President of the United States and Ms. Heyliger plays both sides, fairly enough: the women agree that many of the roomís plates on display were selected by First Ladies whose own husbands had affairs while in office --- they part company on the affairs of the heart: Hillary describes her marriage as a business partnership as well as a romantic union; Monica accuses Hillary of not being womanly enough and that her cold ambition has driven the President into Monicaís pudgy arms. Ms. Heyligerís dialogue is smart and knowing and often hilarious with the women becoming a classic comedy team --- the dumb-as-a-fox stooge keeping her straight-woman in a perpetual slow burn --- and as long as they hold the stage, HILLARY AND MONICA can be forgiven for its Greek choruses, Monica's malaprops and a mock-trial with the rows of china acting as judge and jury; when others enter the ring, offering easy laughs, the evening dwindles to a sitcom sketch; amazingly, both political parties can enjoy it all: Ms. Rodham Clinton can be viewed as a conniving bitch or as a heroine moving the history of women forward by refusing to play a glorified housewife.
Ms. Heyligerís direction is also commendable though I doubt Ms. Rodham Clinton would throw herself to the floor in self-pity but Heidi Dallin (Hillary) and Jacqueline Kristel (Monica) capture their rolesí looks and public personas so well that impersonation leads to characterization, making HILLARY AND MONICA a thinking (wo)manís version of THE WOMEN, and Vanessa Shaw and Jeff Pierce provide wry back-up as a quartet of White House denizens. Jenna McFarland Lordís classically serene China Room is so well-balanced that one senses that disruption is meant to occur in it and it does --- exquisitely --- for the next ninety minutes and for a few performances, more.