Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Pathetic politicians and all their phallic fallacies

“We want to come home to a warm penis.”

Politicians can be a pathetic lot, especially when politicizing the temperature of phallic organs.

It’s been said that we see the politician on the podium wearing a mask, but rarely at home taking it off. It’s also said that tragedy plus distance is comedy. Maybe I was sitting too close, but after the “penis bit,” all I could see was the tragedy.

An American Daughter is a play that takes the audience behind the closed doors, into the home of the political family. As a political comedy, however, it’s at times problematic. You have to be pretty far away to think this situation is funny. Something ironic happens when an actor plays a politician; he finds himself in the mode of acting the part of a consummate actor.

Throughout the entire performance I could not find this political family funny. Tragic? Absolutely. Funny? Only when talking about a warm penis.

The story takes place in the living room of the Hughes family. Lyssa Dent Hughes (Johanna Day) is a natural Washingtonian and direct descendant of Ulysses S. Grant. She’s the mother of twins, a dedicated wife, a renowned lecturer, a hospital owner and a nominee for the position of attorney general.

Her husband, Walter Abrahmson (J. Fred Shiffman), is a frustrating character to watch. A professor of sociology and women studies at Georgetown University, his popularity in the profession is on the decline. Going through a mid-life crisis, his cynicism and disgruntled professorial mannerisms have put him on the edge of divorce. Their friends are an eccentric gay man named Morrow McCarthy (Damon Gupton) and a phenomenally cranky lady named Judith Kaufman (Gail Grate). Poking her head in throughout the entire play is an obnoxious, and voluptuous, feminist named Quincy Quince (Holly Twyford).

When it comes time for the friends to gather for a press shoot during brunch, Lyssa’s bid for attorney general is threatened when Morrow mentions Lyssa’s misplacement of a jury notice. Displaying the media’s hunger for outlandish sensationalism, the missing jury notice is blown out of proportion when Lyssa takes a sarcastic jab at her small town mother. Suddenly, the small town housewives of America are calling her “Dr. Icebox” and protesting her bid for the position.

When politics and private life meet, tragedy ensues. The characters in this play are so involved in their political agendas that they neglect their own happiness. This is the excellent element of tragedy in the play. There is no simple critique of what this complex play holds in store for its viewer, seriously tackling the issues of minorities, abortion, feminist equality, media sensationalism and more. At times there’s just too much politics to stomach. The story line helps to bring out the play’s tragic elements quite masterfully, but, in so doing, hinders its comedic effectiveness.

As a work that brings out the darker side of D.C. politics, it’s definitely well suited to its content. When making attempts at witty humor, it’s that same side of politics that conflicts with its comedic impact.

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