The Body Politic, now playing at 59E59 Theater, attempts to both parody our political system and tell a love story. It succeeds in the love story, but the parody of politics falls flat. The Republicans and Democrats that inhabit The Body Politic can’t compete with the over the top accusations that fly in real life.
When telling the story of Spencer Davis, played by Matthew Boston, and Trish Rubenstein, played by Eve Danzseisen, The Body Politic captures the moment of attraction and spark. Spencer and Trish are both young and idealistic true believers in the system, although in opposite systems. Writers Richard Abrons and Margarett Perry have created two intelligent characters that promote their competing ideology fairly and give grudging respect to each other. Spence and Trish share the campaign trail on opposite sides of a Presidential campaign. Their attraction is obvious to everyone around them, and the campaigns both think they can exploit a possible relationship.
Mr. Boston and Ms Rubenstein are able to convey the attraction within multiple layers of distrust, annoyance and word play. It is a fun ride and kudos out to these two actors who make the audience believe in them. Watching Mr. Boston’s Spence listen to a Democratic stump speech is hilarious.
Unfortunately, the political side of the show isn’t nearly as sharp. It isn’t the fault of the cast, which tries mightily to propel the show with a sense of fun, it is just the political humor feels stale. The story has a stereotypical Republican and Democratic candidate, and two experienced operatives for whom the campaign is one skirmish in an on-going battle. All are acted capably, but the jokes mainly fall short of funny.
Director Margarett Perry pulls some great bits out of the show, and keeps the pace moving well. As the show continues, it plays up the love and competition between Spence and Trish, and so The Body Politic ends stronger than it starts. Never bad, there is a feeling that the show isn’t quite as good as you want it to be – occasionally hilarious and ultimately touching, but missing something.
The Body Politic
Playwrights: Richard Abrons and Margarett Perry
Director: Margarett Perry
Cast: Matthew Boston, Eve Danzeisen, Brian Dykstra, Leslie Hendrix, Daren Kelly