AISLE SAY New York

BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON

Written and Directed by Alex Timbers
Music and Lyrics by Michael Friedman
Papp-Public/Newman
Official Website

Reviewed by David Spencer


As opposed to American
Idiot, which seems a genuine counter-culture manifesto, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson strikes me as counterfeit enough to take a real stand on and just say no, sorry. A youth-rock history lesson about the making of the man and at length the American President of the title, by way of contemporary allegory, it roughly takes the form of a sophomoric revue, telling the tale in linked vignettes and sketches, peppered through with new millennium colloquial profanity and idiom—rather as if Joss Whedon had decided to put provocative American history through a Buffy-type filter—but without Whedon's knack for doing so with wit, characterization and coherent structure.

 

In fact, there's a flopsweat desperation to the performance style, which equates comedy with loud-fast-antic business and delivery; and indeed at the performance I attended, audience reaction did not reflect the exuberant raves that have attended the piece, but instead bore out what one might expect: that there are pockets of adherents for whom this kind of kneejerk rebel thing will always seem fresh and fascinating—either because they respond simply to the innate pretension of the concept and/or because they're too young to remember how many other times similar approaches have been presented in decades past—and that the more general audience reaction is a mix of genial-to-bored tolerance and bewilderment at all the great press. 


I promise you, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
is neither fresh nor original nor deep nor even particularly hip. In fact, alongside the far savvier, more entertaining revivals of the "establishment" Promises, Promises (circa 1968) and the "renegade" Hair (1967), it may be the most retro evening in town.


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