The timing of the Footlight Players' production of David Mamet's 2008 political farce, November, couldn't be better. Directed by Kay Shroka, the play revolves around President Charles Smith's run for re-election.
Smith's numbers at the polls are not looking good. His speech writer is already writing Smith's concession speech. So in order to get more money for his campaign (or at least for a presidential library), President Smith, with help from political advisor Archer Brown, decides to cash in on the annual pardoning of the turkeys. What ensues is a hilarious romp of a comedy that involves extortion and blackmail.
The actors do an excellent job of conveying the humor of the situation. They don't overact, but appear natural and at ease. Brian Page plays the self-absorbed and politically incorrect (he's racist, sexist, and clueless) but somehow lovable President Smith with energy, ease, and a perfect sense of timing. There's a hint of President Obama's mannerism and intonation that flavors his performance. Fred Hutter is very funny as advisor "Archie" Brown. His timing in his delivery and in his exchanges with Page is just right; they're a good comic pair. Rhonda Kierpiec plays, with sensitivity and humor, a good "wise fool" character, Clarice Bernstein ("Bernie"), the President's endearingly idealistic lesbian speech writer who, throughout, has a bad cold. Alex Hoffmann is a spirited Dwight Grackle, and Chris O'Leary is a dumbfounded yet assertive Turkey Guy.
The set, by designer and technical director Kayla Stephenson, is, of course, the oval office. It is appropriately grand and presidential, with classic furnishings. Sound and lighting, by Debbie Drinkwater and Exavia Baxter, respectively, are simple yet effective. The many phone calls are well-timed and the lighting is traditional: elegant, yet focused.
Costumes, too, by Jennifer Metts, are tasteful and well-chosen: the president in a suit and tie, Archie in a suit and bowtie, the Turky Guy in an awful turkey tie and too-short pants, and the "Indian" figure in over-the-top traditional Native American dress.
The play is fast-paced and lasts only an hour and a half, including a 10-minute intermission, so the duration is doable even for theater newbies. It's a David Mamet play, which means there's some offensive language, but it's done to effect and it isn't gratuitous.
Sparkly, patriotic music before and after the show and during intermissions helps set the tone for the fun, feel-good show that ends well for everyone but the turkeys.