Review: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at the Public LAB

History returns as rock.

0

Comments

Add +

  • INDIAN BURN Walker, second from left, learns to hate the redskins; Photograph:...

INDIAN BURN Walker, second from left, learns to hate the redskins; Photograph:...

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5

You know why Les Freres Corbusier will never jump the shark? Because this berclever troupe began life with its Jet Ski grazing a hammerhead's snout. Back in 2003, I reviewed its rock-politics stunt musical, President Harding Is a Rock Star, and now we've gone full circle with the indie-pop mock-historical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. The budget is bigger, but aesthetically, nothing has changed; the company is just as rigorously silly as ever. However, that doesn't mean every show works.

You know why Les Freres Corbusier will never jump the shark? Because this berclever troupe began life with its Jet Ski grazing a hammerhead's snout. Back in 2003, I reviewed its rock-politics stunt musical, President Harding Is a Rock Star, and now we've gone full circle with the indie-pop mock-historical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. The budget is bigger, but aesthetically, nothing has changed; the company is just as rigorously silly as ever. However, that doesn't mean every show works.

Bloody Bloody is a slick mash-up of Les Freres' house style (smart-ass book-learning to a dance beat) and that of the Civilians (semi-earnest reportage to witty pop tunes). Not only does the cast feature Civilians all-star Colleen Werthmann as a zealous lady historian, it's scored by Michael Friedman, that company's resident songwriter. For the most part, though, writer-director Alex Timbers follows the Les Freres playbook: filter a weighty subject (President Andrew Jackson's genocidal relocation of American Indian tribes) through daffy, anachronistic pop comedy (Spring Awakening--esque ballads and kicky dance numbers).

Despite several smart-and-bouncy Friedman tunes and an ace cast—headed by cute, pouty Benjamin Walker in the title role—the overall proportion of snark to dark is distressingly off. Timbers keeps the action moving at cartoon speed, but he might have cut some tunes and beefed up the book. The last ten minutes are the best, when the disillusioned and power-mad Jackson offers Native Americans a final solution. At such times, one glimpses the sort of irreverent, complex musical this could have been. Still, while it is a rare Les Freres misfire, it's no Trail of Tears.—David Cote

See more Theater reviews

Public Theater. Book by Alex Timbers. Music and lyrics by Michael Friedman. Dir. Timbers. With ensemble cast. 1hr 45mins. No intermission. Buy Tickets

Users say

0 comments