House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s off off Broadway production, “January 6th, The Insurrection,” staged in the unlikely venue of the U.S. Capitol building, was awarded an Obie for being the season’s most unusual tragi-comedy.
Industry insiders say that this presentation, which featured actors who previously appeared in plays such as “Portland” and “Minneapolis,” many of which received rave reviews as explosive performances by fiery casts, and are the high water mark for political theater.
A fast paced production, mostly improvisation with a thin story line serving as its matrix, “Jan 6th” scored a major casting coup when the then Vice President agreed to appear in a cameo role as a character called “The Genie” and described in the production notes as “The Spoiler of the Dream.”
Much like a three ring circus of old, the sheer size of the venue and the large number of players made it difficult to follow all the action but most viewers agree that the death of one of the cast extras, whether scripted or improv, was shocking and inappropriate.
In this production Pelosi seemed to be trying to blend aspects of both ancient Greek and Roman theater with a hint of Kabuki. A crowning touch was the introduction of an unseen character, known only as “The Orange One,” whose ghost-like persona is the zeitgeist of the play and provides the motivational structure for each of the performers.
Another bold move was to stage the play’s second act in the halls of congress, in an august setting usually reserved for legislative deliberation. The opening scene of act two featured several actors dressed as a modern Praetorian Guard whose over the top performance, displaying themselves as weak, teary-eyed clowns, provided an unexpected bit of comic relief which set the stage for the balance of the act.
Although opening to mixed reviews, this second act is scheduled to remain in production through the first week of November, 2022 and if it attracts sufficient audience share will be extended until November, 2024.
While reluctant to make predictions about future development for “Jan 6th, The Insurrection” it should be noted that the producers did arrange to have the entire play recorded and have over 14,000 hours of footage in reserve. There is speculation that this video, properly edited, might be used to create a documentary, whetting the appetites of Pelosi fans everywhere.
Stay tuned as plans are being developed to take the entire production on tour across the nation beginning sometime in the near future.
Kudos to Nancy Pelosi for having had the vision to create this amazing theatrical masterpiece.