Chicago Theatre Review
Exploring the Politics of Race with Outrageous Splendor
Mutt – Stage Left
A political satire of outrageous personality and lightning-fast wit, Christopher Chen’s “Mutt” is surely one of themore original complements to the 2016 election season, and it has received a vigorous, energetic staging by Stage Left Theatre Company and Red Tape Theatre at Theater Wit.
The setting is 2012, in the aftermath of the presidential election. The voting results are all tallied, and one thing is clear – the Republican Party has a serious issue with race, having lost all minority voting blocs by sizable margins. To address the deficiency, the party seeks guidance from Hannah (played by the very likable, very adorable Aurora Adachi-Winter), a political consultant on racial issues who advises them to pull from those minority ranks for their 2016 candidate, specifically someone who is a “Hapa,” an Asian of mixed racial ethnicity.
Summarizing the plot of “Mutt,” however, hardly does justice to the blitzkrieg of images, sounds, and characters that Stage Left/Red Tape and its talented cast throw the audience’s way, including: gifs and slogans that are projected on the stage’s back wall; political panel shows of talking – nay, screaming heads, fronted by the inconveniently named “Dave Matthews”; primetime interviews where the GOP’s ultimate candidate, a decorated war hero (played to hilarious effect by Daniel Smith), expounds on his diversity bona fides by lecturing the host on the sexual proclivities of his ancestors, which have given him an ethnic makeup including every country from Ireland to Afghanistan; and meetings with Democratic Party representatives, including one party employee who is only capable of saying the words “middle class.”
With how fast and frantic the pacing is, some of the routines and jokes in “Mutt” inevitably fall flat, but director Vanesa Stalling has trained her cast well on the art of comedic timing, and the show promptly steamrolls ahead to its next gag. And with how relentless (and often shameless) the process is during the presidential primaries, a show like “Mutt” is ultimately necessary to help reclaim our sanity.
Reviewed by Peter Thomas Ricci
Presented through Feb. 14 by Stage Left Theatre Company/Red Tape Theatre, staged at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont
Tickets are available by calling 773-883-8830 or by visiting www.stagelefttheatre.com.
Additional information about this and other spectacular area productions is available at the one, the only, the indefatigable www.theatreinchicago.com.