Sunday, November 5, 2017

Bloom Where You're Planted

The "Don't Tread On Me" license plate said it all: TRU MP.

In what could only be called foreshadowing, FotoBoy and I followed an enormous white truck with that unpleasant personalized plate most of the way down Patterson Avenue to get to HATTheatre to see "Hillary and Clinton."

Because as we get ready to head to the polls Tuesday, what could feel more timely than a look back at a time when our biggest problem was choosing between a woman and a black man, both whip smart and worthy of the job, to be our candidate?

Good god, was that only 9 years ago?

It was only somewhat mortifying to be the last arrivals - FB was tardy in picking me up - to see the four-actor production. The set was an all-white hotel room, framed in white as if to provide a glimpse into "an alternate universe light years from our own, January 2008 in New Hampshire."

Working from a decidedly strong script, the story follows Hillary, then predicted to lose the upcoming primary, as she listens to advice from her driven campaign manager Mark and politically savvy husband Bill, whom she's asked to join her in New Hampshire despite her manager's insistence that she keep him far away.

Since this is an alternate universe, Hillary is winningly played by Patricia Ali, a black actress who uses calm, measured delivery rather than looks to convey Hillary and her unenviable position of trying to break the glass ceiling without having to avail herself of her husband's money or charisma with voters.

The playwright gives us a Bill Clinton who is feeling his age, needy and contrite, eager to return to his wife's good graces, a man who rests his head on her shoulder, telling her he's lonely and missing her. A man who needs his head patted by his wife to feel like everything is all better now. Jeff Clevenger ably takes the character from marital suck-up to master politician reveling in being right about how to win.

As campaign manager Mark, Billy Christopher Maupin nails the obsessive political insider type that anyone who's lived in D.C. has met at some point. He was especially moving in his scenes disagreeing with Bill, because he knows there's no way to win and acknowledges it in ways both humorous and resigned. The kicker was that he'd already caught the audience off guard when he privately drops an unexpected bomb on Hillary.

What? Wonks have emotions, too? Who knew?

The final character was known only as Other Guy, but we know it's the guy who ultimately took the nomination and the presidency. Here, he's willing to offer her the vice-presidency if she'll lose the next few primaries. It's a small and tightly wound role for Waleed Sami.

Kudos to director Deejay Gray for delivering a solid 80-minute entertainment that never for a moment lost our interest, despite knowing how things turned out, at least in this universe. And nothing could have been more poignant than Hillary's final line acknowledging that she knows she can't ever win.

That said, not much could have been more discouraging than the exchange I had with a server at a nearby restaurant. When she politely inquired if we needed anything, I jokingly said, yes, how about a new president?

"I voted for him, but now I know what a mistake that was," this young black woman tells me to my utter surprise. Gobsmacked, I ask how she could have ever thought he was worthy of being elected.

"I believed him when he said he would make America great again," she says, looking obviously apologetic. "I was wrong. All he cares about is himself." Oh, honey, if only you and your kind had come to that realization a year ago.

So "Hillary and Clinton" turned out to be both a compelling look at what if and a sad reminder of what is now. As for the latter, my only hope is that people like the guy in the white supremacist pick-up truck won't be voting on Tuesday.

And hats off to HATT. If ever there was a time for the intersection of theater and politics, that time is now.


  1. Maybe if Mr. Obama had been President for just one term the backlash against him & Hillary might not have been as great. Trump is now President -- the people have spoken -- the majority rules.


  2. Well Karen the people have spoken again. Maybe the democrats can bring some positive changes. Considering how our current governor elect voted for GW Bush twice I wonder about his "Fickle factor". Time will tell. Your Dad sounds of course like a pretty decent guy. There does seem to be something about his generation that seems pretty solid. However today's youth are our future. If you're on the pipeline today you'll probably see few tourists. Stay warm.


  3. Goodness knows, Northam isn't perfect, but I am encouraged by all the Democratic wins in the house. That's something to shout about!

    I am headed down to the pipeline today and if it's anything like yesterday, it'll be just me and the blue herons. Not a soul on Brown's Island yesterday because most people are weather wimps.

    You stay warm, too, Carroll.

  4. Thanks Karen...and if you a mind to, give us a reading on the water level & flow. I've got to visit Steady Sounds tomorrow morn. Might take a detour after & visit Brown's Isle, Pipeline area myself. Been a while & it's supposed to be a pretty day. Might even see a loon this late of season.


  5. Happy to report back on James' conditions. I, too, am counting on tomorrow for a sunny, if cool, day. Only seen one loon this year so far. Fingers crossed for more!

  6. James was very low key: water not especially high (4.1 feet it turns out) or moving all that fast. Hoping it'll pick up once some of the rain in the mountains moves down.

  7. it will...


  8. ..and yes the river was low today but still beautiful. I hopped off the pipeline to walk out on some rocks. A lot of folks out but I guess since it's a weekday to be expected. Not as cold as forecast.