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Mister Smith Goes to Obscuristan 

Another leftist offering from the Mime Troupe is long on preaching but short on entertainment

Wednesday, Jul 10 2002
Mr. Smith Goes to Obscuristan consists of the same lefty agit prop satire the Mime Troupe has offered for years, sugared with a few good songs and one hilarious dead-ringer performance by Ed Holmes as Dick Cheney. Otherwise it's blissfully short. "Obscuristan" is a country "next to Afghanistan" that has no recognizable natural resources for international companies to plunder. Cheney and Condoleezza Rice want to improve the administration's image by bringing democracy to a helpless nation where the U.S. has no obvious profit motive, so they send a firefighter who survived 9/11 named Jeff Smith (Michael Gene Sullivan) to oversee the electoral process. Unfortunately, he can't help but notice that an Obscuristani reformer named Ralif Nadir has been shut out. (Later, we learn that Obscuristan does have oil, so Washington fiddles with the election.) Josh Kornbluth's script relies on the solid premise that promoting democracy would be fine as long as it's really democracy. And Velina Brown's performance as Rice is very funny; she sings mellifluous melodies con dolcezza. Still, most of the show plays like a hollow cough. It rises from predictable tub-thumping to real satirical joy only now and then, and I wasn't surprised when a girl behind me complained, "Mommy, I wanna go home. This is boring."


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