“POTUS” is a comedy spoof about a day in the White House world, playing at Arena Stage until Nov. 12. The full title of the play, “POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying To Keep Him Alive,” is a clue that uproarious entertainment will happen. The play is about a typical day at the White House, or is it? Playwright Selina Fillinger has established a setting that could make audiences question if she had insider information.
Yesenia Iglesias (left), who plays Chris, a journalist, and Felicia Curry as Margaret, the first lady, from the cast of “POTUS” at Arena Stage until Nov. 12 (Courtesy of Kian McKellar)
This all-female cast is dynamic, delivering strong, agile, and unforgettable performances. Each woman is a major character in “POTUS.” The script requires the actresses to respond quickly to White House madness. Each cast member delivers extremely funny scenarios as we learn about the intersection between their work and personal lives. It’s an uproarious time at the theater.
The Madness of ‘POTUS‘
Supervising key staff and putting out fires is the job of White House Chief of Staff Harriet, played by Naomi Jacobson, who is believable as a no-nonsense overseer in a sea of craziness. Natalya Lynette Rathnam is Jean, the White House press secretary, who should know everything to be prepared for unexpected queries from reporters. Felicia Curry is Margaret, the First Lady who has taken a lot of crap from the President; it is clear their marriage has an “understanding.” Megan Hill is Stephanie, a new secretary to the President trying to find her way in a fast-paced environment.
Other characters are Yesenia Iglesias, who is Chris, a journalist who is worried about her job, her young kids, and an ex-husband; Sarah-Anne Martinez as Dusty, the President’s young dalliance; and Kelly McAndrew as Bernadette, the President’s sister who is hoping to be pardoned for a variety of illegal activities.
Opening scenes for “POTUS” dragged a bit, but that comes with establishing characters and allowing the chaos to unfold in the play. The action ramps up as the women juggle an international summit, a scandal between the President and his dalliance, and the unexpected arrival of the President’s sister, who expects to be pardoned. The First Lady and Chief of Staff lead the charge to manage it all.
Navigating the ‘POTUS’ Staging
A huge wonder about “POTUS” is the quickly moving scenes attributed to Set Designer Reid Thompson. Large props like desks, a credenza and doors rise and go through the floor. Some props also come down from pulleys above the stage. The team working with Thompson, and in some instances, the actresses, change sets in near complete darkness on the stage.
The one challenge with “POTUS” was the environment. Performed in Arena’s Fichandler Stage, it is an open square with audience seating on all four sides. As actors move around throughout the play, often the backs of the actresses are facing you. Even with the microphones on the actresses, it was difficult to hear all the dialogue clearly.
Director Margot Bordelon is to be commended for managing the quick action and dialogue delivery among the cast.
For tickets and more information about “POTUS,” visit the Arena Stage website at https://www.arenastage.org. Hear from the cast of. “POTUS” during the first rehearsal. https://youtu.be/TGVeRuaimuM?si=2k7rYZ95-Z15NL2F
Source: Washington Informer