Rachel Dratch, late of Saturday Night Live fame, has the best pair of eyes in show business since Bette Davis, and she puts them to hilarious use in Tail! Spin!, a comic hit at this year's festival, playing at the Kraine Theater.
Broadway director and choreographer Dan Knechtges has brought Dratch together with fellow comics Mo Rocca, Dan Hodapp, and Nate Smith, as well as Broadway veteran Sean Dugan, to infuse what is, in effect, a live, hour-long version of those video montages on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, which have brilliantly laid bare the ironies and blatant hypocrisies of public figures for more than a decade.
Tail! Spin!'s primary targets are four national politicians whose recent sex scandals -- gay and straight -- sent them all into premature retirement. Playwright, comedy writer, and former congressional aide Mario Correa's dialogue consists entirely of direct quotes from the people who helped introduce such phrases as "wide stance" and "hiking the Appalachian trail" into the national lexicon. If you want to see just how many innuendos can be mined from the congressional oath of office alone, this is the show for you.
The joke eventually wears a little thin, but there's always the cast to pull you through, particularly Dratch, who gives voice to the unfortunate girlfriends and wives involved. (Her complete program credit reads, "Wives, Tails, Beards & Barbara Walters.") She and Rocca are both adept at infusing banal lines with just the right airy tone or lisp to turn them into genuine comedy. And the gifted Dugan brings his acting chops into an impressive array of portrayals, ranging from Senator Larry Craig to Wolf Blitzer.
Occasionally, Tail! Spin! jolts us with fascinating post-scandal revelations, and more of that would have added some welcome depth to what is otherwise an entertaining but shallow hour of laughs.
-- Andy Buck