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Election Day

Josh Tobiessen's delightfully farcical comedy skewers everyone from voters to politicians. logo
Halley Feiffer, Adam Green, and Lorenzo Pisoni
in Election Day
(© Joan Marcus)
Getting out the vote has never been more fun than in Josh Tobiessen's delightfully farcical comedy, Election Day, the second selection in Second Stage's Uptown series at the McGinn/Cazale. The play, smartly directed by Jeremy Dobrish, gleefully skewers everyone from undecided voters to activists to politicians who will do anything to get elected.

Adam (Adam Green) hasn't read up on the issues surrounding the mayoral election, despite all of the articles that his girlfriend Brenda (Katharine Powell) has clipped out for him. As she leaves to do some last-minute campaign volunteering, her one demand is that he remembers to vote. This simple task gets endlessly more complicated once Adam finds out his sister Cleo (Halley Feiffer) is plotting with her radical environmentalist friend Edmund (Michael Ray Escamilla) to bomb SUVs, and mayoral candidate Jerry Clark (Lorenzo Pisoni) stops in for some door-to-door campaigning.

A sexual tryst, a blown up car, and a bag of marijuana all play their parts as Tobiessen takes a simple premise and spins it out into a hilarious sequence of events. His dialogue is lean and playful, and includes some terrific lines. For example, when Adam accuses Edmund of terrorism, Edmund replies, "Just because a bunch of Saudis are hogging all of the industry attention with their Wal-Mart of political violence it doesn't mean we're all the same."

All of the characters are intentionally cartoonish, but the talented cast members throw themselves so wholeheartedly into the roles that they become believable. Green's Adam is a lovably comic everyman who is at the mercy of events that rapidly spiral out of his control. Powell strikes the right balance between a confident, take-charge outward demeanor and a more passionate sensuality underneath. Feiffer is pitch perfect as the oddball Cleo, who is ruled more by her libido than any kind of political convictions. Escamilla possesses an endearing smile that lessens Edmund's creep factor, while the handsome Pisoni effectively portrays a charming, fast-talking salesman that doesn't seem to have any scruples.

Dobrish includes several bits of comic business -- such as one involving Adam, Clark, and a miniature flag -- that has the audience roaring with laughter. His high-energy production is swiftly paced, thanks in part to Steven Capone's versatile set design that allows for several very quick scene changes. Good work is also done by the rest of the design team, which includes Mattie Ullrich (costumes), Michael Gottlieb (lighting), and Jill BC Du Boff (sound).

Tobiessen makes his New York debut with this production, and I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next.

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