Hip Shot: The Politician

Goethe Institut

Remaining Performances:

Saturday, July 20, 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday July 24, 5:45 p.m.
Sunday, July 28, 12:00 p.m.

They say: "Peter Peters returns as a ruthless politician in a play combining last year’s Fringe hit The Pundit and its thrilling sequel. “Deflates its target with a sharp satiric pin,” said The Washington Post of last year’s sold-out run."

Sarah's Take: John Feffer's The Politician, which tacks on a second act to an abbreviated version of last year's Fringe hit The Pundit, revisits the story of pedantic pundit Peter Peters (Sean Coe). A foreign policy analyst whose expertise seems to be commenting on issues he knows nothing about, Peters has been shortlisted for a position at the State Department. But his plans are derailed when he feigns knowledge about a terrorist attack in the fictional former Soviet Republic of Khazaria during a TV interview, and he soon finds himself bargaining for his job and his son's life with the mastermind of the attack, Ruslan X (Ethan Kitts).

Feffer knows what he's talking about when it comes to the world of TV appearances, punditry, and short lists—he's the co-director of his own D.C.-based think tank—and it shows in his biting commentary on Beltway culture. The play's best lines are the ones delivered by Rupert Wetherington (Michael Crowley), a snarky British journalist who remarks, "I didn't realize there was a life outside the Beltway. It's just corn fields from here to California."

But The Politician falters as its plot thickens. Though the actors excel at delivering one-line jabs at Washington life, their reactions to the kidnapping of Peters' son feel flat. And while Peters' self-importance and hubris will hit painfully close to home for many in D.C., the plot twists of the second act require a bit too much suspension of disbelief.

Still, in a town that's as obsessed with itself as Washington, Feffer's satire is sure to draw an audience and give them plenty to think about on the Metro ride home.

See it if: You love Homeland, House of Cards, and comic imitations of vaguely Central Asian accents.

Skip it if: You hate Homeland, House of Cards, and comic imitations of vaguely Central Asian accents.