THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS: Political Satire—Philadelphia Style!

by Jack Shaw

Steven Wright, Susan Riley Stevens and Tony Braithwaite at the News Desk in 1812 Productions' THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS running in Philadelphia PA through December 31. (Photo credit: jj tiziou/

When you’ve seen the Capitol Steps, you’ve seen political satire.  When you experience 1812 All Comedy Theatre Company’s production of THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS, you experienced political satire–Philadelphia style and more.  Start off with The View from Patsy’s steps (stoop), add lots of local color to warm up the audience, weave in the usual what to do in case of fire, introduce the comedy troupe, and you’re now in cleverly deft comedic hands and you won’t want to escape.

THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS at Plays and Players Theatre in Philadelphia was a political satire lover’s dream come true.  I consider myself a fan now and will endeavor to see whatever else they might produce.  The All Comedy Theatre Company was full of IT—all of IT.  It was an excellent night of entertainment.  The company made sure the audience laughed and if one joke didn’t work they threw out the joke–maybe. The cast worked together, worked off each other, worked off the audience seamlessly.  Audience participation, always a question mark, came off without a hitch and chuckles from the audience.  Even the cast was having a good time.  Hey, they could stifle a smile, pull it off with aplomb, and still have fun with the audience.

As performance, the art on stage was consistent and pure.  We were on the set of a TV show, but the large screens showed life in the neighborhood, not news.  The stage was a blend of video and live action and it took exceptional vision to make it happen.  It had to reflect each period part of the show with accuracy and style, while staying true to feel at the beginning of the show.  Totally functional, the set design certainly worked great for the dance numbers and other bits, while giving other spaces adequate places to be used by actors without crowding.  Nothing seemed out of place even on the normally small stage.

The stage was home to all the actors and they used every bit of it, right up to the ceiling.  Seriously.  Levels on a narrow stage like this one take on new meaning.  But they work here. That’s important.  As important to the whole experience as faultlessly bringing in the technical audio-visual treatments, the sound effects, music and lighting; and moving the set pieces discreetly.

If perfection doesn’t exist, it can’t have been a perfect show.  It was, however, superbly dreamed and executed.  I could complain about the shiniest guitar I ever saw, but who would care.

I have been a regular follower of the Capitol Steps since I lived in the D.C. area.  Believe me, there is no comparison to the method of delivery.  Don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate the Capitol Steps (still great, too), but 1812’s production of THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS can’t be compared with the other guys.

I wanted to try a comparison; it wouldn’t work.  The only common thread is political satire.  It would be like comparing a Neil Simon play with an Abbott and Costello routine.  Both are comedies, but different.  In the end, I totally enjoyed this show.  This was a different approach to the same subjects with local jabs thrown in.  The approach was indeed original.

This is a year many of us would like a do-over of the year, and I think this show says it all.  It’s all about why we shouldn’t want a do-over.  THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS runs through December 31st.  Let this be your Holiday “do-over.”

Written & Performed by
the This Is The Week That Is ensemble
with Head Writer Don Montrey
Directed by Jennifer Childs
December 2 – 31, 2010
1812 Productions
Plays & Players Theatre
1714 Delancey St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215 592-9560

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