THE PASSION OF KELLYANNE (LiveFeedNYC): 2017 Fringe review

passion-of-kellyann-196x300How did Kellyanne Conway go from Hammonton, New Jersey blueberry-packing champ to the first woman to manage a successful U.S. presidential campaign? That is the question the 45-minute fictionalized biographical comedy THE PASSION OF KELLYANNE aims to explain. The answer provided by the many scenes of Conway’s formative years amongst a gaggle of Roman Catholic-observant women relatives and with an absent father: Daddy complex, leading young Kellyanne to conflate daddy with God, Ronald Reagan and, eventually, Donald Trump.

The simpler, funnier answer to Kellyanne’s political celebrity also here presented: her ability “to smile while talking,” and talking and talking as is demonstrated in one of the play’s best scenes, a tableau where all four actresses who play Kellyanne hold up picture frames suggesting TV screens while gleefully defending their man.

But Leanne Velednitsky was the cast standout for managing to bring some freshness to the role of Trump. Playwright/director Andi Stover presumably deserves credit for having Velednitsky break out in Russian dance in a wordless, subtle nod to Trump’s Russia problem. (And when was the last time the word subtle appeared anywhere near the word Trump?)

I can’t say THE PASSION OF KELLYANNE is funnier than Kellyanne’s actual TV appearances. But that says more about the problem with today’s White House than problems with this play. And to quote Kellyanne’s boss, sad!

[Mascher Space Cooperative, 155 Cecil B. Moore Avenue] September 16, 2017; fringearts.com/event/the-passion-of-kellyanne

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Carolyn Wyman

Carolyn Wyman is the author of seven food books and was copy chief at Philadelphia City Paper, before its untimely demise. She currently leads food tours at Reading Terminal Market and writes the Philly Food Finds column about signature dishes at local eateries for philly.com. Learn more at carolynwyman.com.