Winning the Future Up & Down Theatre Review by Frances Madeson

Published

Va, va, va-voom! In what may be an historic virtual victory for the American theater, Up & Down Theatre’s YouTube spoof Make America Great Again has gone vi, vi, vi, viral, receiving over 13 million views.

If that wasn’t sufficiently spectacular, Brooklyn’s Lindsey Hope Pearlman, and Santa Fe’s Robin Holloway and Kate Chavez, the trio of LISPA grads who comprise Up & Down, have brought an almost medicinally healing comic salve to the 2016 election season. Their entertaining balm is in the form of a live stage show—Winning the Future—which closed its mostly sold-out run at The Adobe Rose Theatre in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on November 6.

Many of the theatrical elements that render watching Make America Great Again so satisfyingly comical—Andrews Sisters vocal stylings deployed to deliver what is, after all, a litany of real-life offenses; an almost devotional attention to production values (netted cloches, the swirled silver cigarette case, a retro popcorn box); refreshing specificity of language (“you could hang your slave on a cottonwood tree”); and precision of gesture (mommy shoving cookie in mouth while daddy administers corporal punishment)—are also richly evident in their send-up of what is arguably U.S. electoral politics’ lowest moment.

Billed as a “political satire cabaret,” the show’s title tips its comedic haberdashery to Barack Obama’s 2011 inaugural speech, in which he famously said that the country needed to “out-hustle, out-educate, and out-innovate the rest of the world, in order to win the future.” The cog diss between the rhetoric of innovation and the reality of policies of endless war and same-ole-same-ole fossil fuel extraction is part of the rich satirical terrain this 5-year-old company mines in WTF.

Read the review at Talkin’ Broadway