By Christopher Chen
Directed by Vanessa Stalling
In a co-production with Stage Left and Red Tape
At Theater Wit, Chicago
Loud, stupid, and witless attempt at political satire is a dud
As I watched Christopher Chen’s one-joke satire, Mutt, I was struck by why two terrific Chicago theatre companies (Stage Left and Red Tape) would select such a lousy play? Mutt’s attempt to blast presidential politics in an election year fails due to poor writing and an over-the-top cartoonish production. Once I got an ear full of the screaming and the silly attempts at physical comedy at the play’s outset, I just shook by head in bewilderment.
Mutt features the Republican Party’s attempt at solving their race problem, as if that is their only problem! Mutt purports to address multi-culturalism in politics by putting forth a mixed race candidate of white and Asian descent. Len (Daniel Smith) is a simpleton war hero and closeted serial killer who is selected to be the Republican candidate for president. Meanwhile, Nick (Michael Reyes) is a mixed race Republican who turns Democrat to run for the presidency.
In a series of screaming and cartoonish scenes peppered with silly physicality and hyper-movement, Mutt comes off a a silly-stupid attempt at political satire. I felt sorry for the talented cast who were made to launch the blisteringly tasteless humor for 105 minutes. Mutt beats to death the one joke emphasis on race as the path to victory. I guess Chen didn’t realize that Obama made that a non-issue.
This in-your-face loudmouthed satire becomes tediously long and redundant. When satire is heavy handed and clumsy, it can easily slip into sophomoric stupidity. That is the case here. If the producers really want satirize presidential politics in 2016, all they need do is act out what the misfit collection of Republican contenders, led by Trump, are actually doing on the campaign trail! Sometimes the best satire comes directly from reality. You can watch video clips of the candidates as they produce material rich in satire that begs parody. I’d skip Mutt as it is a not funny scream-fest that takes a silly sketch and stretches it into 105 minutes of boredom.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
For more info checkout the Mutt page at theatreinchicago.com
At Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL, call 773-975-8150, www.stagelefttheatre.com, tickets $15- $30m, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 1hour, 45 minutes with intermission, through February 14, 2016