Theater Review:Get Your War On
As much as we’d like to change a few things about our first time, we regret weâ€™ll never be able to repeat the experience. We also canâ€™t change history, so catching the currently playing, slick incarnation of the Rude Mechanicals’ Get Your War On also wasn’t our first time. (We reviewed the show last January as well.)
Directed by Shawn Sides, Get Your War On consists mainly of actors Lowell Bartholomee, Ron Berry, Lana Lesley, Jason Liebrecht, and Elizabeth Wakehouse on the phone with each other, trading quick quips about 9/11, North Korea, and the ominous involvement of Vice President Dick Cheney and former White House Political Adviser Karl Rove in national policy. Sometimes the actors eat doughnuts and read magazines while they bitterly quip. Sometimes a dude walks around wearing a map of North Korea. Often, pictures of George Bush or the robotic cartoon giant Voltron are projected in the background.
Based on David Reesâ€™ Internet comic strip of the same name, this clever adaptation by brilliant Rude Kirk Lynn premiered as a workshop production in 2005. We loved the show then. In the time being, itâ€™s toured the universe, gathering rave reviews and a lot of praiseâ€”including the Total Theatre Award for Best Original Work from an Ensemble at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Yet, while this production is recast, spiffed-up and revampedâ€”and slightly updated to reflect whatâ€™s happened in the world since the show premieredâ€”we canâ€™t say that we were really hyped after seeing it a second time. With a different cast, new overheads, and more transparencies than youâ€™ve seen since PowerPoint took over the presentation industry, the Rudes put on an impressively tight and fluid retelling of seven years of the Bush administration. The addition of the visuals made the show different, but it didnâ€™t make it a different show. Weâ€™d already been there, done that, laughed at the jokes. It was kind of like watching a month-old repeat of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Still funny, butâ€¦.
Time has not been kind to the script. We know itâ€™s a historical dramatization, but a long section on the Anthrax attacks of 2001 felt dated and pointless on second viewing. Making fun of Bushâ€™s 2004 imperative to go to Mars was reaching into the past. We live in the moment, and weâ€™d totally blocked that outâ€”it might as well have been something out of the Harding Administration for us. Then again, weâ€™ve blocked out a lot since our former governor hightailed it to the White House.
“Even if you saw it the last time, you won’t want to miss this incarnation, featuring up-to-the-minute material, a new cast, and a revamped design,â€ the Rudes website tells us. For us, not so much. Yet, if our pre-show eavesdropping was correct, the guys behind us had seen it before, and were having a great time seeing it againâ€”for like the fourth time. They were even singing along with the showâ€™s musical selections: Electric Light Orchestraâ€™s Telephone Line, David Bowieâ€™s Life on Mars and AC/DCâ€™s Highway to Hell. Heck, maybe a repeat viewing would work for you, too.
And don’t get us wrongâ€”you absolutely must see this show once. Tell your peeps in Finland to catch the Rudes when they hit Helsinkiâ€™s Espoo City Theatre in October. We just wish weâ€™d waited, so our first time could have been this time.