Capital Fringe Festival: ‘Young Republicans’ sends up political culture
By Fiona Zublin
Monday, July 16, 2012
D.C. loves political humor; the more you know about something, the funnier it is. But it’s harder to write for a D.C. audience than for any other.
Because we’re all so intimately familiar with politics, you can’t just say “Republicans are stupid!” and expect a laugh. Everything has to be specific and everything has to feel true. The script for “Young Republicans” at the Capital Fringe Festival has some great jokes, but too often it falls back on things like “All this empowerment stuff is just something liberal girls made up so they wouldn’t have to put on mascara.” Okay, actually, that does kind of sound like something Rush Limbaugh would say. (Full disclosure: Author Alexandra Petri writes for this newspaper.)
Petri’s microcosm is a college Republican club that’s forced to have a special election when its president, the bubbly, Jesus-loving Stephanie (Alison Talvachio), tweets something untoward and is forced to resign. She, seemingly a bit uncomprehending, decides to run for her seat again against a handsome airhead (Andrew Ferlo) with what he thinks of as a terrible secret and a horrendous stereotype of competent womanhood who wears (gasp!) ugly suits (Robin Covington). Will the terrible secret come out? Will the awkward, unlovable woman find her inner softness? This is the stuff of romantic comedy, but the cast navigates the cliches adroitly, and Petri makes a few deeper points about a political culture that discourages discussion and rewards unthinking loyalty. “Young Republicans” isn’t surprising (unless you’ve never seen “The West Wing” or met a cynical Hill staffer), but it is enjoyable.