Lampooning everything from Hillary Clinton ‘not’ running for President in 2016, to NJ Governor Chris Christie ‘not’ closing the George Washington Bridge, 1812 Productions’ THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS delivers non-stop laughs in a fast-paced ensemble-devised review of today’s important issues. Now in its eighth annual installment, the all-comedy company’s popular news parody has long outlasted the TV show that inspired it (“That Was the Week that Was” ran on England’s BBC from 1962-63, followed by an American version from 1964-65 on NBC), and with good reason: it’s funnier than ever! Along with its usual political skits, news reports, and video clips, 1812 has greatly expanded its musical segments to include witty take-offs on current events in an array of styles from rap to movie scores to Broadway extravaganzas.
From the moment the house lights dim, the laughter begins, as performer/director/head writer Jennifer Childs’ curtain speech is interrupted by the always excellent Scott Greer as a government official hawking “Odrama Care.” Greer also anchors the show’s news desk for the first time, and he’s a natural, bringing mock gravity and satirical wit to his delivery of the day’s lead stories (to remain current, the script is updated for each performance).
In a production that’s chock full of highlights, it’s hard to name just a few, but along with Greer, Childs’ oddly insightful South-Philly alter-ego Patsy and break-dancing Governor Christie bring down the house, as does Dave Jadico’s stage exit as the saxophone-playing and intern-loving Bill Clinton. Musical director Alex Bechtel is also sidesplitting as Al Gore, Vladimir Putin (he nails both of their speech patterns and accents), and spin-doctor Ann Coulter, who joins fellow political pundits Rachel Maddow (Jadico), Reverend Al Sharpton (Aimé Donna Kelly), Rush Limbaugh (Greer), and Larry King (Childs) in a well-choreographed soul song by “The Spinners.”
Hilarious costumes by Lauren Perigard, terrific videos by Jorge Cousineau (including a rollicking guest appearance by actor/playwright Bruce Graham as the Pope), and amusing ad-libbed bits of audience participation all add to the fun. [Plays & Players, 1714 Delancey Street] April 24-June 1, 2014; www.1812productions.org.