NEW YORK–What the heck is with these guys?
The thought is inescapable as you watch “Tail! Spin!”, Mario Correa’s juicy exercise in satirical target practice, at the Lynn Redgrave Theater in SoHo. One by one, the actors playing shamed (or shameless) Washington politicos step into the limelight for a funny, awful, at times even awfully funny recapitulation of the sexual scandals that brought them low.
Using verbatim text from tweets, posts, speeches and interviews, Correa and director Dan Knechtges recount for us the allegations against the four politicians, incidents that subjected them to widespread ridicule and cost all but one of them their political careers. The quartet includes Larry Craig (Sean Dugan), the Idaho senator arrested in an airport men’s room; Anthony Weiner (Nate Smith), the New York congressmen hoist on his own predilection for X-rated selfies; Mark Foley (Arnie Burton), the Florida congressman who resigned after reports surfaced of suggestive emails to House pages; and Mark Sanford (Tom Galantich), the governor of South Carolina–now a House member–who roiled his state with his deceptions regarding an extramarital affair.
With dizzy gusto, Rachel Dratch, esteemed alumnus of “Saturday Night Live,” plays all the women in their lives, as well as Barbara Walters, an impersonation that earns her bonus points for “SNL” nostalgia.
If at times the pummeling the disgraced politicians get in “Tail! Spin!” feels almost too easy, it is also impossible, based on the grandly smarmy turns by Dugan, Burton, Smith and Galantich, to summon much compassion for them. Time and again in the 75-minute show, as the tawdry details of one scandal after another plays out on a red carpet (with an overhead screen helpfully identifying the myriad ancillary players in the sordid stories), one is encouraged to wonder: what peculiarities of character facilitate such reckless behavior–with the possibility of humiliating public exposure ever so near?
No deep psychologizing occurs in “Tail! Spin!”–only a few cringe-worthy recreations of on-camera exchanges between the politicians and media interrogators such as Matt Lauer and Sean Hannity. By the time the fourth of these tales is told, an audience gleans a familiar pattern, one that ends, inevitably, in the man under scrutiny looking trapped, forlorn and against all odds, unrepentant.
Tail! Spin!, by Mario Correa. Directed by Dan Knechtges. Set and projections, Caite Hevner Kemp; costumes, Jennifer Caprio; lighting, Ryan O’Gara. About 75 minutes. Tickets, $25-$95. At Lynn Redgrave Theater, 45 Bleecker St., New York. Visit www.TailSpinShow.com or call 866-811-4111.