There’s a certain art to speaking without saying anything of substance – a talent all too familiar to those who live among the politicians and think tank heads of Washington D.C..
Peter Peters has perfected that art, and his skill has brought him a certain measure of fame and self-importance. But in The Pundit, saying nothing – or speaking with authority on a subject about which you know very little – has dire consequences.
Peters (the name just screams television talking head, doesn’t it?) is the brainchild of the show’s writer and star John Feffer, a Capital Fringe Festival regular who has branched out from the one-man shows he perfected in such previous offerings as Krapp’s Last Power Point, Edible Rex and The Bird. The Pundit has a full cast and the stakes feel higher; Feffer has delivered a work that starts as a pointed satire and evolves into a taut thriller.
Feffer’s pontificating on the subject of the little known country of Khazaria (so little known that he manages to bluff his way through an entire television interview without even knowing what continent it is on) brings him attention both desired and unwanted.
While news programs begin clamoring for his expert insight, his words also draw the attention of Rusian (Sean Coe), a man claiming to be head of the terrorist network Omega. Peters’ attempt to keep a haughty distance from those countries he lectures about is tested by Rusian, who brings the Khazarian conflict dangerously close to Peters’ home and family.
The Pundit’s ensemble of television journalists, commentators, researchers and political gatekeepers (Peters is taught an amusing lesson about Washington karma when he attempts to get through Henry Kissinger’s snarky secretary) all go a long way towards creating an atmosphere of Beltway bustle – the show’s news broadcasts seem real, and the self-absorption of the characters feels familiar.
At first, the sheer arrogance of Peters screams of a man who deserves his comeuppance. By The Pundit ‘s conclusion, however, we’re invested in his fate. Even if he’s the kind of guy whose colleagues watch his missteps with what Feffer cleverly coins as “Friend-enfreude”: the joy one gets in seeing a friend falter – preferably on live television.
The Pundit has 5 shows, ending July 29, 2012 at the Goethe Institut, 812 7th St NW, Washington, DC.
Details and tickets
Missy rates this a 5 out of a possible 5, making it a Pick of the Fringe!
John Feffer, who occasionally writes for DC Theatre Scene, gave us a First Look at The Pundit.