Cormac McCarthy famously concludes Blood Meridian, his grisly novel about America’s westward expansion, with a merry, dancing villain. “He says that he will never die,” writes McCarthy of vicious Judge Holden, a malevolent force of superhuman power and apparent immortality. Likewise, Theater Oobleck closes the book on the grim Bush Years by focusing on Dick Cheney, a malevolent force of superhuman power and apparent immortality.
Actually, according to Dorchen and Thompson’s script, the corporeal being known as Dick Cheney serves merely as host for a one-celled space alien that lives in Cheney’s brain and is bent on world domination. Having been assured that Cheney’s body, after several dozen heart attacks, will no longer suffice as host, the Vice President is sent, à la Fantastic Voyage, through the brains of such potential successors as John McCain, Hillary Clinton and, finally, Barack Obama. Obama, meanwhile, reveals in monologues his own sense of being taken over by forces beyond his control, as his dreams of conciliation devolve into nightmares of discord.
Though the show relies a bit too heavily on earlier portions of the 2008 campaign (we could do with less Fred Thompson, more Sarah Palin), Oobleck’s mix of satire and cold-hearted absurdism can be bitterly funny and uniquely incisive. It makes a strange kind of sense, for instance, that McCain’s brain houses a mad vaudevillian puppet show overseen by the frothing senator, brandishing a mopey Joe Lieberman doll in one hand, a bamboo shiv in the other. As for Dorchen’s uncanny channeling of Cheney in all his smirking glory, it simply must be seen to be believed.