nytheatre.com review by David Gordon
August 14, 2012
As evidenced in the recent case of actress Morgan James and the Public Theater's production of Into the Woods, Twitter can be a dangerous place if you don't entirely comprehend just how far your comments can spread.
Just like Ms. James, Connor Jorgenson, protagonist of Matthew Greene's timely but underwhelming play #MormonInChief, learned that the hard way. Connor, an average Joe Mormon played by Jesse Liebman, Tweeted a paraphrased quote from the candidate - using quotation marks - saying that the country would be better without gays and illegals, something the campaign vehemently denies.
The Tweet created a minor controversy, and in the mind of Lydia, a cutthroat 22-year-old political blogger played by Nicole Rodenburg, she's about to break the story of a lifetime. She has secured an interview with Connor in a mightily unorthodox way - she shows up on his doorstep having gotten his address from someone she used to sleep with - but when the campaign demands an apology, everything's up for grabs.
#MormonInChief, starts with a great deal of promise - a nifty series of projections (designed by David Bengali) and a compelling, articulate, and just a little bit vague monologue delivered by the compelling Rodenburg's green Lydia. But this potentially intriguing work, statically directed by Austin Regan, lost me mid-way through the first scene and never got me back.
As a main character, Connor is too vanilla to be compelling, and although we're told his comment ignited a firestorm, the stakes are so low that we never actually believe it. He doesn't think he did anything wrong, he even enlists Lydia to write a statement for him, and all that makes is for a very circular 90 minutes. Liebman seems trapped in a character that's an ineffectual cypher with no room to go or grow, and easily overpowered by the fiery Rodenburg's conniving, ballsy, and ethically questionable blogger. A third character, Connor's friend Kate, played by Karis Danish, is more distracting than necessary, despite a strong performance from Danish.
The three-hander is set in Connor's apartment, simply designed in matching aquamarine colors - down to book jackets - by Jason Ardizzone-West.
Ultimately, #MormonInChief, doesn't suffer from a lack of potential, it just doesn't know where to go. It's timely alright, but like all Tweets heard around the world, it needs to say something.