THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS (1812): The tenth anniversary of an annual favorite

 

The ensemble of 1812’s THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

The ensemble of 1812’s THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

Hullo. Youse wanna know what Patsy really thinks about Donald Trump? Well she’ll tell yiz, and a whole lot more, in 1812 Productions’ tenth anniversary edition of THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS. With the 2016 presidential election looming over us and the candidates bombarding us with their personal attacks on each other and their strident opinions on everything but how to solve the real issues (as duly noted in the show’s clever opening curtain-speech segment), South Philly’s favorite pundit (created and played by director Jennifer Childs) and her insightfully witty team of writers and performers bring some welcome laughter to this troubled week (year/country/world) with their annual politically incorrect political comedy.

Along with regulars Childs, Dave Jadico, Alex Bechtel, and Aimé Donna Kelly, newcomers Justin Jain and Sean Close parody the presidential hopefuls and a range of current topics, from the incessant campaigning to racism, gun control, immigration, and Philadelphia (two of the show’s best lines note the meaning of “SEPTA” and the city’s penchant for “hating on New York”)—all done with an astute eye and a no-holds-barred attitude. As always, there’s the news desk (with Close serving as this year’s anchorman and longtime WEEK collaborator Don Montrey contributing as head news writer) and audience participation—both with random members being conscripted into the skits and the house audibly reacting to the jokes (laughing at the funniest and groaning at the corniest)—offering great ad-lib opportunities for the cast.

The masterful Jorge Cousineau provides video supplements to the live performance, seamlessly splicing taped appearances by the actors with footage of the real-life candidates and popular TV shows. Bechtel’s music direction brings high energy to the actors’ rousing rendition of “Shake it Off” (a highlight of the show that closes Act I with a bang), and terrific costumes by Lauren Perigard Kaisoglus visually transform the ensemble into the distinctive politicos, an array of pop-culture personalities, and the futuristic characters from Star Wars (in a sidesplitting scene featuring Close as Chewbacca, Bechtel as C-3P0, and Jain as Princess Leia). There’s also a hilarious pre-recorded piece with the ever-kvetching Uncle Shotsie (Thomas E. Shotkin), whose “oying” will leave you howling. The script is updated daily to include the latest headlines, so you can see it more than once if you’d rather laugh than cry at the current state of things.

[Plays & Players, 1714 Delancey St.] November 27-December 31, 2015; www.1812productions.org.

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About the author

Debra Miller

Debra holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware and teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She is a judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent for Central Voice, and has served as a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and President of the Board of Directors of Da Vinci Art Alliance. Her publications include articles, books, and catalogues on Renaissance, Baroque, American, Pre-Columbian, and Contemporary Art, and feature articles on the Philadelphia theater scene.