hand2mouth: messy, sticky, gooey fun Nov 2, 2007
It must be said that 'Repeat After Me' is not a rigorous investigation of patriotism or the country culture that produces songs like "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue" and "Where the Stars and Stripes and Eagle Fly." There are some interesting juxtapositions, and the cast does a pretty good job of singing the songs straight and not mocking them (though the recurring stripping down to American flag underwear and same-sex kisses suggests a non-red-state perspective), but this show is more about creating theatrical spectacle than political analysis.
And as spectacle, it's entirely enjoyable. Did I mention the American flag underwear? There's lots of entertaining dance performed by scantily-clad actors (male and female) -- it's basically a non-stop musical number, and it's pretty impressive that energy and focus never flags over a 90-minute show. There are balloons and confetti and spilled beer (a lot of spilled beer); colorful costume changes (I was particularly impressed with a polka-dotted suit); and some truly lovely vocal harmonies. The performers are excellent and have all sorts of interactions that run under the songs, creating a sort of performance narrative that alters the mood over the course of the evening. Then there was the pie-eating, which was wonderfully grotesque.
There are certainly some moments that made me think: For one thing, I'd never really heard the lines from Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime" that go "If her daddy's rich, take her out for a meal/If her daddy's poor, just do what you feel"; and, though I suppose I knew this already, the show made it palpably clear that African-Americans do not write songs about how great America is, whereas white trash -- who also get screwed by systematic prejudice and corporate predations -- will continue to proclaim they live in the greatest country on Earth.
But this is fairly incidental to the synchronized choreography and flying confetti. It's a fun show and you will enjoy it.
-- Bret Fetzer