Given that it’s election year, it should be no surprise than this October saw a swarm of politically oriented plays, rather than the usual spooky Halloween fare of most years. Even though Radioactive Republicans and Dancing Democrats was part of a Halloween festival, it got its scares from being set in a horrifying future where G. W. Bush is in his fourth term as president (and got its laughs by pointing out that he hasn’t really won any of these elections).
Radioactive Republicans… has a large cast of zany characters, not limited to aliens, bisexual ballerinas, and irradiated swimsuit models. It also has a huge pile of topical and political references, including G. W. Bush, Condoleeza Rice, and the Olsen twins. There's also a postmodern narrator named OP who's perfectly aware of the plot holes in the show he's narrating. Surrealistic wackiness simply abounds in this play.
A loose story holds the antics together. This plot centers on figuring out why the home of billionaire "Wipppy" (played by Rich Renner) suddenly exploded, irradiating a rich swimsuit model (making her a "Radioactive Republican"). There's also a romantic subplot about Wipppy’s daughter Pieridine (Joanna Hughes), her boyfriend Brock (Jonathan Weirich), and her ex-girlfriend Felony (Christine Seisler). Pieridine is a ballerina, by the way, and the titular Dancing Democrat. Then there are yet more subplots involving a mysterious masked killer and yet another love triangle.
Despite the timely political gags, and all the zaniness and wit, the show didn't entirely come together. Elias Stimac directed his show straightforwardly, without adding many directorial flourishes to his text. Stimac's script certainly has its merits, including some delightfully surreal moments, but the direction relied too strongly on the material carrying the rest of the production.
The performances also inhibited this show. Several members of the non-union, mostly young cast had an impressive amount of experience in other art forms (ballerinas, TV stars, and even prominent trombonists), but many of them had limited stage experience. Some were even making their stage acting debuts with this show. The performances as a whole were a tad hammy, which was acceptable when dealing with such bizarre themes but did not enrich the show.
An omniscient presence, or OP, served as narrator (voiced by Rodney E. Reyes). This unseen character spoke only over a PA system, and made up the bulk of the sound design. Costumes were fairly good, especially for sexy swimsuit model Cephalique (played by the yummy Liz Lord). The dashing Trever Ward also got to strut his stuff in a scandalously sexy midriff top, while playing the alien Glurp. Sets suffered from the limitations of being produced in a festival, but were still colorful and functional, even concealing an ultraviolet light behind the couch to create the radioactive supermodel effect.
Radioactive Republicans… probably didn’t have much of an effect this election, but the show certainly packed a substantial surrealistic wallop in its short running time.
Also featuring: Jasmine Bermudez, Susan Bucci, Nancy Pagan, and Elizabeth Anne Wood
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Copyright 2004 Charles Battersby