David Mamet’s November is at times uncomfortably relevant to today’s political world, but the farcical hilarity softens the blow of the racist, greedy, manipulative implications of our highest office. Charles Smith is the current incumbent president, counting down the days until the next election decides whether or not he has another four years in the White House. Problem is, apparently, everyone hates him and no one, not even his speech writer, has faith that he will be re-elected. Desperate to hold onto the job and fund his library, Charles, along with his straight talking Chief of Staff, Archer Brown, and lesbian speech writer with a nasty cold, Clarice Bernstein, brainstorm various crazy solutions to ensure his victory.
I haven’t laughed during a show so hard in a very long time. November is a small but tightly run cast, with timing that nails the growing hysteria and hilarity of political negotiations. President Smith is the classic conservative president with a twang, whose energetic delusions, odd mix of determination and laziness, and desperation drives the energy of the show. However, as with all good cabinets, the energy would topple over if left in the hands of one over-the-top showman. That’s where Archer’s pitch perfect straight man routine fits in, grounding the play so it never goes too far into farce. There’s a little messiness, especially in the final act where the premises and arguments are so ridiculous that the actors at time seem unable to contain their disbelief and laughter. But these small stumbles do not take away from the overall experience of a very funny and politically relevant comedy.