Laura’s Bush

By Jane Martin
Directed by Jack Daniel Stanley
Vital Theatre Company
432 W. 42nd St. (212/592-0129)
Equity showcase (closes Oct. 24)
Review by Seth Bisen-Hersh

Laura’s Bush is a bizarre romp with Laura Bush, a lesbian librarian, and a dominatrix. There are some focused moments, but overall the play is unclear in its theme and raison d’être. But the cast was able to milk many moments for laughs, making it a mixed evening overall.

Upon walking into the theater, the audience was accosted by the President’s famous misquotes accompanied by porn music. The plot of the show follows Dody Dotson (Hilda Guttormsen), of Silo City, Kansas, as she attempts to rescue Laura Bush (Laura LeBleu) from a conspiracy of evil Republicans. Dody enlists a dominatrix prostitute, Desiree Jones (Jane Aquilina) to help Laura escape via a secret passage out of the library’s woman’s bathroom’s second stall on the back of a llama. By the end of the evening Colin Powell (Damion Luaiye), Condi Rice (Kristin Price), and even Bill and Hillary made appearances. (The final member of the cast was Arthur Lewis, who mostly ran around with a gun during scene changes.)

It turns out that George W. Bush was secretly brilliant until they gave him a lobotomy. Laura wishes to expose the fact that he has since been replaced by Saddam Hussein’s body double. Dody has translated Laura’s blinks from various speeches; apparently she blinked "HELP ME" in Morse code, imploring to be liberated. Dody succeeds in rescuing Laura, and then they fall in love. But things get complicated when their secret hideout is found out…

Sound a little wacky? It was. The beginning of the show was interesting but weird and unclear in intent. Somewhere in the middle, the show found its focus; Laura’s stories are sardonically satirical, and some good political punches are dealt. But the show lost its momentum by the end.

The cast was good all around. The three main women (Guttormsen, LeBleu and Aquilina) all had dynamic facial expressions and exquisite stage presence. They commanded the stage and delved into their roles with zest and flair. Jack Daniel Stanley’s direction kept the show moving. He encouraged the enjoyable over-the-top performances, which made the audience believe the craziness and absurdity of the plot. Karl A. Ruckdeschel’s costumes were deliciously naughty, sensual, and skimpy. John Ficarra’s set design was patriotically red, white, and blue; it incorporated a cage, adding to the S&M feel. Stanley’s sound design finely juxtaposed many different music styles with each other and occasionally various quotes.

Thus, Laura’s Bush beats around the bush too much but had some stellar performers. With some fine-tuning and reworking to create a purpose and a through line, as well as more of the pointed political references, it could burgeon into a fierce satire.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 2
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

Return to Volume Eleven, Number Seven Index

Return to Volume Eleven Index

Return to Home Page

Copyright 2004 Seth Bisen-Hersh