Constitutional scholars may trip over a plot point or two, but the idealism and frisky humor in “Someone to Watch Over Me” could infect even them.
Playwright/director Kevin Finkelstein’s title refers neither to a Big Brother state spying on its citizens nor to the old Gershwin tune. Rather, his hour-long comic fantasy imagines that an ordinary person can launch a governmental reform movement and avoid partisan politics.
A talented cast (Stefanie Garcia, Thony Mena, Genna Davidson, Paul Thomas Truitt, Robin Covington and Paul J. McLane) keeps the show light and Fringe-worthy, with an improvisatory feel. The rough audiovisual elements work less well but don’t interfere much.
Finkelstein’s play opens on Election Day 2016. In his scenario, President Obama lost in 2012, and the Republican (Truitt) who beat him is up for reelection. We meet four 20-something pals from the D.C. area, just hanging out. Three of them admit they didn’t bother to vote.
Aerith (Garcia) is the exception. She believes passionately that good government is achievable. After venting to her lover (Davidson) and goofball buddies (Mena and Truitt), she takes her case to the Internet.
Her “We the People” Web posting wins so many followers that news anchors (Covington) and a congressman (McLane) take notice. Aerith glides uncorrupted into the highest corridors of power. That’s when plausibility issues will trip some folks up.
Finkelstein is artistic director of the fledgling Federal Theatre Project, which produced “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Taking its name and perhaps some of its ideas from the legendary New Deal-era program, the company’s manifesto states that it “exists to bring free and affordable theatre to under-served populations” in and around Washington, focusing on “American governance; that is to say, the political process.”
If that’s the goal, then “Someone to Watch Over Me” works despite its fantastical premise.
Horwitz is a freelance writer.
Written and directed by Kevin Finkelstein. About an hour. Through Saturday at Capital Fringe Festival. Visit www.capitalfringe.org.