‘Blinders’: A fool and his vote are soon parted
WATERTOWN – The old saw is that you can’t fool all of the public all of the time, but what about when you come pretty darn close?
Playwright Patrick Gabridge speculated about that, and the result is the Flat Earth Theatre’s production of Gabridge’s “Blinders” now at the Arsenal Center for the Arts.
The recent production of Gabridge’s “Blood on the Snow” under the aegis of the Bostonian Society, in partnership with the National Park Service, at the Old State House was well-received. Gabridge actually wrote “Blinders” about 20 years ago, but the cautionary tale about the political process has modern lessons to teach.
There is excitement when scientists, soon after the discovery of the first two identical snowflakes, report they have discovered two identical people – not twins, but two persons completely identical, in every way, down to the last strand of DNA.
The catch, of course, is that Chris (Matt Arnold) and Alex (Justus Perry) aren’t identical, just the beneficiaries of a mass marketing campaign designed to win over John Q. Public and, eventually, the electorate as Chris and Alex seek to parlay their fame into the presidency – actually, a co-presidency.
Arnold and Perry as Chris and Alex finish each other’s sentences and exchange fist bumps as they strive to be all things to all people, while bristling at questioning perceived as too tough or too probing.
Mass hysteria over the “identical” duo grips the nation, and anyone who stands in the way of the onslaught is brushed aside or threatened
The emperor has no clothes, of course, and the proclamation is stubbornly resisted by one journalist named Karen Sayer (Kimberly McClure), who refuses to get on board.
When her seemingly devoted husband, ace marketer Stack Thompson (Craig Ciampa), ends up joining the boys on their quest. and her parents even get on board, Sayer finds herself alone on an island of doubt.
A spirited ensemble – Robin Abrahams, Marge Dunn, Arthur Gomez, Sarah Mass and Glen Moore – perform a bevy of disparate roles with aplomb, executing changes in character and costume in seconds.
“Blinders” is not a perfect piece of theater; you can point to some holes in the plot and things get a bit too over the top at times. The first act is a bit slow to start, while both Gabridge and the company pick up their act in Act II, when Sayer goes undercover in a bid to break up the dynamic duo and get the distracted populace to see straight again.
Director Korinne T. Ritchey keeps the action free-flowing and fast-paced over the quickly-changing political landscape and the cast is all in with their efforts, making “Blinders,” in total, a satisfying theatrical experience.
The Flat Earth Theatre production of Patrick Gabridge’s “Blinders.” Directed by Korinne T. Ritchey. Produced by Lindsay Eagle. Costume design by Elizbeth Krah. Projection design by Lindsay LaPointe. Lighting design by Becky Marsh. Sound design by Mac Ritchey. At the Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown, through June 25. flatearththeatre.com.