Theater review: “November” at Jewish Community Center

By
From the October 25, 2012 edition

Faced with weak polling numbers shortly before election day, the incumbent president has to scramble through backroom deals and tricky political games in order to secure the funds to make one last push towards re-election … or at least towards a legitimate legacy.

We’ll have to wait to see if that plotline foreshadows real events, but in a timely production of David Mamet’s “November,” the Jewish Community Center’s Gallery Players are making it a reality a few weeks early.

Not the most notable of Mamet’s work, “November” is a silly farce that’s heavier on laughs than subtext. The Gallery Players, however, do an admirable job translating the play and making it quite a bit of fun.

Faced with a budget shortage and dwindling support, President Charles Smith (played beautifully by Todd Covert) decides to make one last re-election effort by soliciting a very large financial contribution from the National Association of Turkey Manufacturers in exchange for the annual tradition of pardoning a turkey (or in this case, two turkeys).

Although the show occasionally hits a few lulls, especially in the long first act, director John Dranschak maintains a pretty good pace and lets his characters zing each other through Mamet’s frequently biting dialogue.

As the one person above the circus, speechwriter Bernstein (Jill Taylor) gets hit the hardest, as the only thing she wants from the President in exchange for his legacy speech is the ability to marry her partner Daisy. Taylor brings strength to the role, especially when Bernstein’s request is seen as the biggest stumbling block to re-election, making her another casualty in the President’s quest for four more years of power.