Get Your War On
The Rude Mechanicals' 'Get Your War On' bulldozes through the buried media and lost horrors of the post-9 / 11 years with a sarcasm that strikes sparks
Reviewed by Heather Barfield Cole, Fri., May 6, 2005
Get Your War On
The Off Center, through May 14
Running Time: 1 hr
Profanities, angry accusations, gross generalizations, unchecked aggression, political impotence, and ennui frame Get Your War On, the Rude Mechanicals' theatrical adaptation of David Rees' Internet comic strip. White-collar workers glued to telephones and computers incessantly curse and argue world politics through a highly Americanized bias. Actors personify pen-and-ink sketches of clean-cut corporate employees. In varied levels of frenzy, characters gibber about the anguish of the World Trade Center collapse, spoon-fed quack rhetoric from world leaders, the fall of Enron, Homeland Security terror alerts, the PATRIOT Act, and an illogical Mars colonization initiative. And that's just warming up. Beginning with the date stamp October 2001, GYWO pushes through contemporary political history with a brutal blend of nihilism and sorrow.
The show is a workshop production, so actors carry scripts in hand or set them on music stands. Choreographic blocking by director Shawn Sides shows us potential for something grand. Sides' signature frenetic popcorn movement nicely balances with coordinated stillness. Rude's company members Jason Liebrecht and Lana Lesley stand virtually motionless except for their robotic flipping of transparencies illuminating drawings of the clip-art figures wearing Santa hats. ELO's song "Telephone Line" chirps in lazy lounge affectation as time passes for us in the audience and in the historical timeline. The set is spare, with the aforementioned school overhead projector, a couple of chairs, a water cooler, and a ramp platform to lend dimension. Actors liberally use microphones on stands but carry them like appendages for the voice, preventing static body positions.
Remember Christmas in 2001? Tragedies fade or become distorted from social memory. Remember "shock and awe"? Seasons change, and the axis of evil slips through military hands again and again. Remember Afghanistan? They joined the war-on-terror bandwagon, despite mutilation from U.S. troops the previous year. Remember the Iraq War? (Wait, is it over?) Election day in Iraq was so exciting, wasn't it? I bet you jumped for joy when you saw images of ink-stained fingers declaring, "I voted," as a show of democratic independence. Hanging around the water station, sipping on filtered goodness in paper cups, a co-worker vehemently rejects the concept of "freedom fries." Another proclaims the U.S. as the Domino's pizza of liberation. It's easy to get humorously hotheaded from the stale powerlessness of a sequestered office. North Korea runs goofily through the action as a giant geographic map, worn as a body suit by Kirk Lynn. Nobody wants to acknowledge North Korea as he whines for attention. Voltron, the Transformer-like cartoon character, emerges by sliding feet first onto the projection. Analogous to George Bush Jr., the defender of the universe will save us all! Maybe not.
It's high time to gather scattered bits of memory and paste them back together. We have suffered some profound shit the past four years. Get Your War On is not cathartic; it's a fucking affective bulldoze through buried media and lost horrors. The show is more sarcastically reflective than politically volatile, but it strikes sparks to ignite the beaten-down, dark and dormant liberal-radical left that has been licking its paws too fucking long.