By Toby Zinman
For the Inquirer
Hipster history. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, a rock musical by Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman, was an outrageous success in New York. But the Plays & Players production fell as flat as cowpie; what excitement there was felt forced, and despite the young audience, there were few laughs and fewer shrieks. Daniel Student's direction seems slow and flaccid; the slacker delivery sounds as if they've barely memorized their lines.
Jamison Foreman leads the onstage band, although there isn't a memorable song in the 2 ½ hours. And it's worth noting that the show's running time was 90 minutes in every previous production.
Joe Sabatino in the title role is decked out in tight pants with an American flag hanging from his belt along with a holster for a Bowie knife and another for a hand mike. His wife Rachel (Shannon Remley who is actually embodying a character, i.e., acting) and Jackson used to cut themselves—another way of showing us that the contemporary is less new than we may have thought. We meet a variety of politicians ( played by Max Cove, Sam Nagel, Brendon Norton, Josoh Totora, among others) and Jackson's friend Black Fox (Billy Kametz) the Indian who betrayed many tribes.
The idea here is to follow the career of the seventh president of the United States, a frontiersman who drove the Spanish and the British and the Indians out of what is now the Western U.S., expanding the country to the Pacific Ocean. This involved a lot of blood mayhem.
The show's political incorrectness is a given, grabbing any excuse to make unlikeable characters gay and to make female characters (Allison Caw, Kristen Norine and Meggie Siegrist) slutty. The entire populace (then and, apparently, now) is assumed to be moronic, ill-informed and willing to follow any charismatic leader. There is something smug about this adolescent daring, especially with the cartoonish spurting of blood from every wound.
Seeing this show on the day of the swearing in of the current president of the United States, made the satire -- the paving of the prairie, the disappointment of the populist movement, fear of borders, and the bloody-minded, gun-toting American psyche-- seem obvious and childish; the whole show seems to be a snide Sarah Palin wink, asking us, "How's this workin' out for you?"
Plays & Players, 1714 Delancey St. Tickets $25-30. Information: (215) 735-0630Extended through Feb.10.