November is a Bush-administration-era play from the states about a beleaguered president with unlikely prospects of successfully running for a second term. Broke, largely abandoned by his inner circle the president becomes desperate to attain as much money as he wants while leaving himself a lasting legacy.
As the national turkey pardoning event approaches the president strikes upon a notion of wringing as much money as he can from the people who supply the turkeys by pardoning every turkey in the United States, with the help of his sly lawyer Archer. Meanwhile, the president’s speechwriter decides to adopt a Chinese girl with her female partner, figuring she can start her life now.
All of this and more coalesce into a smart adult play, filled with witty political commentary and in the context of 2018 a very true to life depiction of our friends down south. According to November’s director, Shane Tollefson, he picked the play precisely for that reason.
“It’s basically the inner working of the oval office and the knots they’ll try and twist themselves into to try and get re-elected or scam as much money as they want,” Tollefson said.
November’s playwright, David Mamet, is excellent and writing snappy dialogue, according to Tollefson, with “zingers going back and forth” making for an excellent comedy. With the Trump Administration now in office, Tollefson said the 10-year-old play about a controversial and perhaps slow-witted president was very timely, the only dated aspect being gay marriage remaining illegal.
“I read this about four years ago I think, I just came across it, and I was laughing within 10 minutes. The first 10 pages or so I was hysterically laughing reading it,” Tollefson said. “Then about two years ago, Trump was elected and I gave it a read again and I was like ‘Wow, this is actually quite on target.’ It was satire back then, now it’s the evening news.”
The play opens Nov. 7, just after America’s midterm elections, so Tollefson said that opening night “we’re either going to have a great audience or we’re going to have another depressed audience, I don’t know, we’ll make them laugh either way.”
Tollefson said thus far in practice his actors have been doing great with this word-heavy play. A mix of new and old actors, Tollefson intends to put them through their paces and bring out the best in them before opening day.
“We have a talented group of cast and crew who do theatre in this town, it blows me away every year,” Tollefson said. “The creativity and talent we have in this town absolutely blows us away.”
Colin Sanford stars as President Charles Smith, perfectly capturing a bumbling, well-meaning if slightly dimwitted and impulsive president, with just the right dash of passionate un-politically correct tirades. Alongside him is Neal Matoga as the clever and sly lawyer Archer Brown, who is already embodying a calculating droll personality.
The rest of the small cast also stands ready to deliver memorable performances, with Karen MacDonald gracefully playing the sincere speechwriter Clarice Bernstein, Jamie Regier bringing a fiery bombastic persona to Chief Dwight Grackle and Chris Armstrong portraying a delightfully neurotic and humorous man known only as Turkey Guy. While not off script yet, the actors are already infusing their characters with personality and life that will only grow more pronounced before opening night.
Set construction has already begun and Tollefson said it’s not one specifically tied to any president, but rather a hodgepodge of different styles that create its own look.
Running Wednesday to Saturday for two consecutive weeks in November, with two matinees on the Saturdays, all funds as always will go back into the theatre to help pay for the next production. With 98 seats available, Tollefson said, tickets will be going on sale soon, though he warns there is some very mature language throughout.
“What’s going on south of the border is pretty sad, pretty tragic, so I thought let’s give them a laugh or two. Of course, we don’t really have a dog in that fight down there, but when the neighbours start yelling, start throwing stuff, start lighting people’s couches on fire on the front lawn, it might blow back towards your house too,” Tollefson joked.