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Election Day

Behold the abundance of newbie talent in "Election Day," a ridiculously entertaining entry in Second Stage's annual summer airing of new plays. Cute and cutting satirical comedy by Josh Tobiessen makes mock of young narcissists who, under the guise of political activism, are in hot pursuit of their own, self-serving agendas.

With:
Edmund - Michael Ray Escamilla Cleo - Halley Feiffer Adam - Adam Green Clark - Lorenzo Pisoni Brenda - Katharine Powell

Behold the abundance of newbie talent in “Election Day,” a ridiculously entertaining entry in Second Stage’s annual summer airing of new plays. Cute and cutting satirical comedy by Josh Tobiessen (who is still finishing up his M.F.A. in playwriting, that’s how fresh he is) makes mock of young narcissists who, under the guise of political activism, are in hot pursuit of their own, self-serving agendas. Ensuring that things don’t get too nasty, or that these selfish brats don’t wear out their welcome, helmer Jeremy Dobrish entrusts their overblown characters to a terrific cast of attractive young pros who individually and collectively bear watching.

To soften us up, play starts off disingenuously as one of those self-congratulatory comedies about a slacker guy and the overachiever girlfriend who keeps nagging him to put away his videogames and grow up. Endearing Adam (played by Adam Green with a physical slouch that extends all the way to his brain) is perfectly happy to shuffle through life in pajamas and let the pretty lawyer he lives with support them both.

But today happens to be Election Day, and g.f. Brenda (Katharine Powell), a high-powered lawyer and gung-ho volunteer for one of the mayoral candidates, is absolutely insistent that Adam do some last-ditch electioneering for this important campaign — or at least get out of the house and vote. (Brenda will go through many painfully funny stages of self-discovery in Powell’s smart perf, but for now, she’s an uptight workaholic.)

Tobiessen shows a more ambitious side to his character comedy once Adam is left alone in the apartment (given a nice slick gloss by set designer Steven Capone) he shares with Brenda. As in some Faustian nightmare scripted by the Marx Brothers, he is visited by various characters who could make him lose his weak resolve to vote.

The first temptation to slack off comes from Adam’s flaky sister Cleo (Halley Feiffer), whose garish but unfocused boho ensembles by costumer Mattie Ullrich tell you all you need to know about where she’s coming from. The adorably watchable Feiffer (“subUrbia”) uses her idiosyncratic comic sensibility to fill in all the hilarious details — but, in a nutshell, Cleo is one of those stupidly amiable girls who adopts the political stance of whatever guy she happens to be sleeping with.

Political ditherer though she be, Cleo actually sets Tobiessen’s madcap plot (more cleverly constructed than it appears on its silly surface) spinning into motion. This she does by hooking up with a crazy-like-a-fox eco-terrorist, played with Machiavellian glee by Michael Ray Escamilla, who aborts his original plan to sabotage the election by blowing up a few cars once he gets the chance to hold one of the mayoral candidates hostage. The hostage role falls to handsome Clark, an oleaginous creep played with exquisite insincerity by Lorenzo Pisoni.

Once assembled in Brenda’s apartment, where Adam is trying hard to preserve his utter disinterest in any serious matter whatsoever, this outlandish cast of political cynics, dupes and dopes does, indeed, succeed in rigging the election. But in the process of carrying out their dirty and devious hijinks, they also succeed in doing what Brenda never could — instill anger, outrage and action in one real jerk of a hero.

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Election Day

Second Stage Uptown; 98 seats; $40 top

Production: A Second Stage Theater Uptown presentation of a play in one act by Josh Tobiessen. Directed by Jeremy Dobrish.

Creative: Set, Steven Capone; costumes, Mattie Ullrich; lighting, Michael Gottlieb; sound, Jill BC Du Boff; production stage manager, Lori Ann Zepp. Reviewed July 31, 2007. Opened Aug. 1. Running time: 1 HOUR, 25 MIN.

Cast: Edmund - Michael Ray Escamilla Cleo - Halley Feiffer Adam - Adam Green Clark - Lorenzo Pisoni Brenda - Katharine Powell

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