Imagine Election Day November 2016. Imagine Presidential candidates committing to reformed taxes. Transparent government. Peace. It’s not hard. Every election since we, the people, chose FDR has echoed its predecessor. And every four Januarys, the same tax, peace, and transparency promises seem to turn to ash.
In Someone to Watch Over Me the Federal Theatre Project takes on DC and the bleakness begot by inefficient government with surprising optimism.
Aerith Gainsborough (Stefanie Garcia) is fed-up with campaigns that are, in all reality, just lies. She’s also appalled at the apathy of her roommates—Cloud (Paul Thomas Truitt) and Barret (Thony Mena), a couple of lazy, pot-smoking dudes obsessed with wastebasket ball—and her girlfriend, Yuffie (Genna Davidson).
Aerith does what many in DC and probably the U.S. who still care about democracy would like to do. She harnesses the power of the Internet and social media to begin a movement that snowballs into “Aerith’s Army.” She transforms from normal, everyday girl into a thorn digging at Congressman Sephiroth (Paul J. McLane), his Chief of Staff (Robin Covington) and, eventually, Republican President Shinra (Paul Thomas Truitt).
Someone to Watch Over Me has some good fun with current news reporting (Huffington Post=HuffnPuffington Post), taps great music (Bob Dylan, Tracy Chapman, and Tom Petty), and turns to one of the best historical American figures (Mark Twain) for words of wisdom, but it feels undone. A bit simplistic, but also overzealous. In the course of 60 minutes it tries to make too many statements, covering same-sex marriage, citizen voices, government waste, the information age, the legalization of marijuana, etc, etc, etc…
Someone to Watch Over Me
by Kevin Finkelstein
at Goethe Institut – Main Stage
812 7th Street NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Details and tickets
For all her rebel-rousing, Aerith comes out on top, unlike so many rebel-rousers of yore, with the exception of the Founding Fathers, and it’s this ending that feels too optimistic and too easy. I, personally, would like to see the show lengthened but also more focused with a less happy ending—but that’s just me. I don’t like things tied up perfectly with a nice bow unless it’s Christmas morning.
I think this play is a good start to something bigger, but it does feel like a start. A draft that still needs to be edited, but a good draft with promise.