From its unintentionally campy histrionics to its apparently total lack of oversight, Michelle Clunie’s US has “vanity project” written all over it. This two-hander, set during the 2008 election, is the first play that the former Queer as Folk actor ever tried her pen at—and, boy, does it show.
Clunie stars as Woman, a performer with dreams of becoming a writer (hmm…), who falls hard and fast for Man, an idealistic politician (Jeff LeBeau, trying his damnedest) that she meets over the Internet. The dictionary definition of moment is unhelpfully projected on the back wall while “Endless Love” plays over the speakers, and then we’re thrown into the thick of the couple’s thorny relationship: Man is about to accept a Senate nomination when Woman storms in, raging about a bimbo he may or may not have slept with. The show shuttles back and forth between this seemingly unending lovers’ quarrel and scenes from the pair’s evolving relationship, as they e-meet-cute, talk liberal politics, argue, make out, argue some more and—in the show’s only effective scene—get stoned in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial.
Clunie is clearly enraptured with the idea of a love story, but it’s hard to fall for such an off-key, self-obsessed, dramatically stagnant affair. Her weird dialogue reels drunkenly among faux poetry, affected banter and outright baby talk (obnoxiously, Man and Woman only refer to each other as “Boo Boo”). US is further bogged down by the clumsy directorial hand of Jennifer Gelfer and by Clunie’s ridiculously over-the-top performance. The muttering elderly man seated behind me, who was clearly enjoying himself no more than I was, put it best: “Oy, oy, oy.”—Jenna Scherer