“Son of a Bitch Winning at the Fringe”
By David Nairne — Son Of A Bitch, running at the Broadwater during Hollywood Fringe 2019, focuses on Lee Atwater’s — Republican-Strategist-Liar-Driven-Liar-Brilliant-Liar-Son-of-a-Bitch— rise to power. The piece asks and answers two important questions:
What are you willing to do to get what you want?
What happens when the biggest liar in the room is also the one telling the truth?
One more question is left unanswered…and it’s a butt kicker.
We track Lee Atwater, played with a tangible charming menace by Ben Hethcoat, from his time as a college Republican through to his death shortly after he instrumented the victory of George H. W. Bush in 1988.
From the start and at their initial meetup, Atwater appears a creepo, using politics to chat-up Cass; who is played with a lot of steel by Chloe Dworkin. This first interaction was attention getting, though it made me a little queasy. And although Cass sees through Atwater’s B.S., it matters not. In just minutes it piles up so high there is no way… yet we see the cracks begin to form in Cass’s armor.
And thus, we’ve arrived at the heart of the matter. What Lee Atwater wants, he gets and what’s on the agenda at this juncture is to get George H.W. Bush elected president. Atwater wants to, above all else, win the Presidency. And he knows what will win it: Toughness. The two future Presidents and Jim begin to crack. The Willie Horton ad serves as the central underpinning for this devil’s bargain. Lee’s winning.
As Atwater takes “W” under his wing, and through some funny audience interaction, we get the feel of a campaign office.
Lee does not have his entire life together however and it’s through the campaign his facade is patched by Gladys played by Corsica Wilson. Wilson’s portrayal embodies a strength called upon in the service of her man and carries an ‘I have so much to offer’ quality.
In this fictional history we don’t see Lee with much happening in his world outside the campaign’s internal struggles. The material focused on two major want: George H.W. Bush for president and the illusive Cass, who does comes back into his life. Now successful, independent, no politics or Washington D.C. yet on some level, he knows how to make her feel.
Playwright Lucy Gillespie’s play, Son Of A Bitch while insightful, is also great fun throughout. There are consistent laughs punctuated with the hardness of Atwater.
And a resounding thank you goes out here to Director Billy Ray Brewton for a tightly directly production, to Performers Dennis Gerston (George H.W. Bush) and Luke Forbes (George W. Bush) for their portrayals of U.S. Presidents 41 and 43. Gerston deftly imbues “Poppy” Bush with a restrained quality that hides an ‘I’m the smartest son of bitch’ in the room truth, while Forbe’s G.W. Bush sulks and carries dismissal about himself.
David McElwee plays Jim the current campaign manager who knows what can be done within the norms but has no sense of what the people want. McElwee does a great job.
Son Of A Bitch gets a high recommendation. There are some fine performances supporting this humorous character study of a man, who, himself, harbors no scruples while holding a deep understanding of how unscrupulous we all might be when given the opportunity. The question remains… Fringe Award-Gold Medal-The TVolution
Why do sons of bitches like Lee Atwater keep winning?
Son of a Bitch merits a Tvolution GOLD MEDAL.