Editors' pick

POTUS Among Us

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Editorial Review

Improv's Electoral Collage

By Lavanya Ramanathan
Thursday, September 4, 2008

Another election season, another near-archaeological dig for disgruntled former associates, business deals gone awry and long-forgotten hotel-room hanky-panky -- and at the end of it, for better or worse, another president of the United States.

Washington Improv Theater's second edition of "POTUS Among Us," opening tomorrow, mines the tragicomic qualities of presidential elections as it offers a sort of funhouse-mirror version of the campaign process. Each performance lasts about an hour, with a different result every time.

The show begins with five archetypal candidates (the maverick, the wide-eyed neophyte, the single-issue guy, etc.) throwing their hats into the ring and presenting platforms to launch their campaigns.

The catch: The audience decides what causes the candidates will champion. Some theatergoers will be canvassed as they enter and, based on their responses about the real issues, the actors will get their stump assignments just moments before the show. (Imagine, a District resident might actually be able to influence the outcome of a national election...)

Whether the issue is parking tickets or abolishing all stupid laws (easily read as: "the end of Big Government"), the candidates stick to their positions -- lest they be called flip-floppers -- in hopes of going all the way to the White House.

What you won't see are sendups of Sarah Palin or Barack Obama or anyone else actually running for office in 2008. Rather, the shows will stick to the recurring themes in politics -- you know, tabloid exposés, Sunday-morning roundtables dissecting candidates' every move, and, um, surprising vice-presidential selections.

The show is the the main program of a slate of WIT politically inspired performances.