Sunday, September 16, 2007

FRINGE: Hillary Agonistes

Photo/Dixie Sheridan

To put it in the politically correct ambiguity of Nick Salomone's satirical writing, Hillary Agonistes is a seemingly relevant play. Emphasis on "seemingly." The alarmist plot (emphasized at every scene change by a blaring siren and sharp blackout) involves Hillary's first challenge as president (2009). Rather than face reality, Salomone turns to a full-blown Rapture: 65 million people vanish. The good parts are the slight observations as to how our government might deal: the military looks to cover up their ignorance with an alien scenario, Pat Robertson fakes his own Rapture so his followers won't think less of him, and Americans target Muslims as that legion of anti-Christs. The thought of Christ as a four-watt lightbulb of safety is nice, but the supporting dialogue is wildly uneven, prone to blustery sentiments and little faithfulness to real characters like Bloomberg (now in the Treasury), Chelsea (now a convert to Islam), and Hillary (played by Priscilla Barnes of Three's Company). Barnes is tightly drawn, yet always pandering to an invisible camera; there's evidence of a good performance, but she needs multiple takes to get it right. Most of her work is utterly unconvincing, and director Jon Lawrence Rivera (as with P. Diddy in Raisin) often has her emote with her back to the audience. (Talk about spin!) Salamone needs to tighten his grip on reality (the characters) before he tries to flush out a parable.

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