Emboldened by his recent successful impersonation of a singing 26th president in the musical “Teddy and Alice,” John Davidson has turned to a non-singing Theodore Roosevelt in the late Jerome Alden’s one-man play “Bully: An Adventure With Teddy Roosevelt.” If vitality and enthusiasm (the very virtues of T.R. himself) can turn “Bully” into a hit, Davidson has it made. But the president’s warmongering, rah-rah patriotism may be too wildly out of sync with today’s U.S.
There’s no denying Davidson’s ability to re-create Teddy R.’s physical and vocal tics to near perfection. And the play itself provides a great deal of information in a vividly dramatic way, though it doesn’t make enough of T.R.’s all-important trust-busting. The superior first act leaves off at 1912, the weaker second act picking up thereafter. Director Joe Leonardo and Davidson might well consider trimming the second half.
The production’s setting encompasses T.R.’s home in Sagamore Hill, Long Island, the White House, and various whistle-stops. The president’s hobbies are on display, with elephant tusks, an elephant’s foot, big-game heads, a canoe and a well-stocked bookcase prominent.