note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Robin McGuire
Zeitgeist Stage Company’s production of Spin by Robert William Sherwood, playing at the Black Box Theatre through May 10 is a well-done mockumentary for today’s political campaigning landscape.
Sherwood taps into the current affairs, literary, of a campaign suddenly propelled into the spotlight by sexual rumor relating to the top candidates wife. Jerry, the campaign manager for presidential candidate Henry Champlain is given a hint to the impending doom by his campaign management rival Mary. In the early afternoon of the last debate before a big primary, Mary gleefully announces to Jerry she has information that Champlain’s, cold and indifferent wife, Alexandra was involved in a sordid sex scandal offers 90 minutes for Champlain to bow out of the campaign and be her guy’s running mate.
The timely premise of Spin offers a nice respite and some comic relief to the current state of our national debates and impending election. The story unfolds with a few fairly obvious twists and turns but also offers some sobering commentary on American politics that focus’ on perception rather that truth.
Steven Barkhimer‘s performance of Jerry, the sarcastic, insulting and completely devoid of ethics, campaign manager is quite believable. Peter Brown as Senator Henry Champlain provides a strong and reflective portrayal of a candidate facing a difficult decision. Christine Power as Alexandra is somewhat over-affected in her performance as the “victim” in the scandal. It is Melissa Baroni as Elizabeth that steals every scene with keen comedic timing as the architect for keeping balance and spin going in the campaign. Elisa MacDonald’s portrayal of Mary, the venomous campaign manager for Champlain’s opponent is a bit forced and at times she “steps” on the laugh racing to her next line.
Director and scenic designer, David J. Miller uses space well at the intimate theatre. Much of the action does have the actor’s backs to the audience, but Sherwood’s script maintains a good pace to keep the audience interested with back-and-forth repartee.
Considering the present political environment and re-hashing of the candidates personal lives by TV commentators, Spin is a great way to have a laugh at our elective process and just might provoke serious debate on the state of campaigning. As Jerry says, “campaigns would be perfect if they didn’t include candidates.”