By Elyse Simich
A satire of Bill Clinton’s Presidency in the 1990’s, this musical explores the idea he led “parallel lives” as discussed in his autobiography. Two actors portray him on stage, Simon Burke plays William Jefferson (WJ), the sober, wise leader who hopes the world will only see him. Matt Dyktynski plays WJ’s alter ego, Billy, a reckless womaniser who plays the saxophone. Despite giving good advice, Billy is ignored by WJ. Eventually Hillary teaches them to work together, and Bill is able to finish his term as President.
Australian brothers, Paul and Michael Hodge co-wrote the show, and their comedic asides had the audience laughing throughout the production. Many of the jokes follow Hillary Clinton, played by Lisa Adam, who wants her own “sequel.” She was portrayed flawlessly, with her hunger for power played up, as she dreams of creating her own legacy and changing the role of First Lady. Jokes about her recent email scandal were also made.
Another huge theme was Clinton’s alleged affair with Monica Lewinski, played by Megan Kozak and his subsequent impeachment. Her character is obviously very young and unable to keep a secret, she confides in her colleague at the Pentagon, causing the entire scandal to be leaked.
Kenneth Starr, played by Brendan Hanson, was the independent counsel and lawyer who led investigations of Clinton regarding Whitewater and Ms Lewinski. His character is played in a very tongue-in-cheek way, his songs are heavily influenced by cabaret and his characterisation is camp.
The show explored the idea of a ‘media circus,’ with the journalists reporting on the same story, “today, tomorrow and the day after that,” despite not even understanding it themselves. They provided a comedic barrier stopping Bill from creating his legacy; they were always there to report on every wrongdoing and they often got it very wrong.
Newt Gingrich, played by Luke Hewitt, was the Speaker for the House of Representatives. The Hodge brothers wove jokes about his weight throughout the show; he was always eating, for a start. He also made a speech about American’s needing to “tighten their belts” in relation to the budget.
Al Gore appeared as a recyclable cardboard cut out. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, played by Claire Moore, also appeared as a portrait, hung in the Oval Office. Hillary is obsessed with her and often misinterprets her quotes.
The set, designed by Bruce McKinven, was a rotating version of the Oval Office, with an American Flag backdrop behind it. The orchestra, led by musical director David Young, was located on the second floor of the set. They played flawlessly throughout the show. Claudia Allesi’s choreography made the show.
The sound design, by Ben Collins, was also great. Internet has only just been invented and the familiar ‘dial-up’ sound is heard as the characters make remarks about how fast it is. Eleanor Roosevelt’s quotes are heard via voice over a number of times.
All in all, this was a very enjoyable comedy, which was written with an Australian ‘larikin’ sense of humour. All aspects of this show work together seamlessly, a credit to director Adam Mitchell.
Presented by the Black Swan Theatre Company, this show is being performed at the State Theatre Centre of WA until September 11.
Images from clintonthemusical.com and State Theatre Centre of WA Facebook page.