Skip to content
Arts & Culture
Link copied to clipboard

‘This Is the Week That Is’ at 1812 Productions reminds us of the year it’s been

What a year it has been, and 1812 Productions, as it does each year, compresses 2018, that gobsmacking political free-for-all, into one musical. With a year's worth of awful news to work with, 1812 skewers and laments — and in the process cheers us up.

(Left to right:)  Rob Tucker, Tanaquil Márquez, Sean Close, Jennifer Childs, Dave Jadico, and Justin Jain in "This Is the Week That Is," through Jan. 5 at 1812 Productions.
(Left to right:) Rob Tucker, Tanaquil Márquez, Sean Close, Jennifer Childs, Dave Jadico, and Justin Jain in "This Is the Week That Is," through Jan. 5 at 1812 Productions.Read moreMark Garvin

Just before the lights went down, I checked my email before dutifully turning off my phone.

I found this appalling array:

Alert: Actress claims Les Moonves forced …

Breaking news: Deadly heat, spreading diseases, overwhelmed hospitals …

Evening update: Trump threatens to declassify "devastating" docs about Democrats …

Breaking news: Stormy Daniels claims …

And I thought: However will 1812 Productions manage to make a comedy out of this ugly mess?

But they did!

This is the Week That Is by 1812, now through Jan. 5 at Plays & Players Theatre, has become a beloved institution wherein the company — Jennifer Childs, Sean Close, Dave Jadico, Justin Jain, Tanaquil Márquez, and Rob Tucker — creates a satirical revue of the year's political events.

All the bits we have come to expect were present and accounted for: Jadico in the lobby, Close at the news desk. Everyone who has seen this show in the past 13 years waits for Childs' appearance as Patsy, the South Philly sage, who reminded us that the recent Nancy Pelosi contest for Speaker of the House had high stakes since the speaker is third in line to be president, so "If Trump is impeached and Pence gets raptured early … " We get a story about a neighborhood in which a Mexican family moves in across the street; it didn't need the Mr. Rogers underscoring to make sure we got the message.

Much was omitted (how not, with a whole year's worth of awful?), like the hashtag movements and the Saudi prince and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, but maybe that's just too grotesque to joke about. Ditto the opioid crisis. The only mention of the previous day's triumphant NASA landing on Mars turned into a dumb joke.

Many terrific highlights: Rob Tucker's knockout impersonation of Oprah singing gospel ("No, no, no, no, I'm not running") and Justin Jain as Kim Jong Un. A series of skits based on famous Broadway musicals was clever: Fiddler on the Roof's "Tradition" becomes "Collusion," and the line "Here we go again" from the title song of Mamma Mia! turns into resist-exhaustion about the endless parade of protest marches. "The sun'll come out tomorrow" from Annie's "Tomorrow" becomes a comment on climate change, a moment of genuine subtlety. And Evita turns into a great send-up of Melania Trump.

Hats off to 1812 for having the heart to cheer us all up — see you next year!

This Is the Week That Is.