Bob Edes Jr. for President! The recently honored Big Easy Theater Person of the Year completed a convincing run as chief executive in David Mamet's November, recently produced by Theatre 13.
The rough-and-tumble (or rough-and-bumble) President Charles Smith is seeking a second term. The odds are wretched for the underfunded, foul-mouthed Chuck, a hilarious caricature of Nixon and political lowlifes of his ilk. Edes is a chameleon who magically takes on the color of any role he's playing, and as Chuck, he's in top comic form. We meet him in the Oval Office, where he lurks in continual conference and bickers with his chief adviser, Archer Brown (Leon Contavesprie). Brown maintains a relatively calm demeanor in spite of the surrounding whirlwind of eccentricity. Chuck's approval ratings, for instance, are "lower than Gandhi's cholesterol," he says. Plus the candidate is too broke to buy TV ads or fund a library that will glorify (read: falsify) his legacy.
The surreal mishmash we've come to accept for democracy gets a thorough thrashing as Chuck wiggles and wriggles, trying to improve his ratings. He's supposed to pardon a symbolic turkey at Thanksgiving; maybe he can get the National Association of Turkey Manufacturers (represented on stage by Mike Harkins) to cough up some bucks as part of the deal. He even threatens to make tuna fish the national holiday offering if they're not generous enough.
Chuck is always on the verge of losing self control, like when he gets harassed by the tribal chief of the Micmac Nation or learns his head speechwriter Clarice Bernstein (Rebecca Frank) not only is a lesbian but also has adopted a Chinese baby.
On a more serious note, he has to worry about Iran, which may have launched a nuclear attack on our homeland. And immigration policy is caught in a catch-22 — he can't build a wall to keep Mexicans from entering the country illegally because it will require undocumented Mexican laborers to construct it.
Under Ashley Ricord's skillful direction, this outstanding cast kept the audience engaged and laughing. — Dalt Wonk