Derek Evans is a professional Teddy Roosevelt. His show, called The Man in the Arena for the purposes of Fringe, is usually known simply as The TR! Show and is performed at school assemblies.
The downfall of this production is that it is really is nothing more than a school assembly; the text is obviously aimed at a Middle School aged audience with very little knowledge of American History or the life of Theodore Roosevelt.
Teddy Roosevelt is one of the “large-than-life” American heros who inspires fanatical devotion in history buffs, and the kind of audience who, in this our nation’s capital, is going to show up at a Fringe show about T.R. will most likely have more than a passing interest in the man.
I am by no means a devotee of the biographies of historical presidents, but most of the stories Evans told in character were ones I already knew; explaining the Rough Riders and the origins of the Teddy Bear with no critical position or insight to an audience of adults borders on insulting.
In this political climate, Teddy Roosevelt is a figure that is easily co-opted by both ends of the political spectrum. He is a figure who still resonates, and the duality of his family values, Republicanism and his Anti-Corporatist Conservationism would have made him an interesting subject for a theater piece about the ever-changing world of politics. This was not that play.
The Man in the Arena would be a really great introduction to the life and legacy of one of our nations better known presidents for a group of school children, but is not insightful or far reaching enough to be compelling for an adult audience.
The Man in the Arena has 3 more performances in The Bedroom – Fort Fringe, 607 New York Avenue, Washington, DC.