November 7, 2019
You’re not hallucinating – Carousel Theatre presents world premiere
By John Busbee for The Culture Buzz
It must be something in the water. The creative juices are flowing in this production company, as one of its own has written a comedic romp, filled with a delightful story line and some memorable characters. Delusions of Power is David Dubczak’s work, taking the concept of storytelling to great heights, thanks to Carousel Theatre of Indianola’s willingness to produce this appealing comedy.
Subtitled “Chaos at the Capitol,” Dubczak’s comedy is set in the Oval Office. Gratefully, he writes with a glib gift for situational comedy that is not politically nor party reliant, but instead very much character driven. Delusions of Power follows the short-lived, extended consequences of a moment when the fictional President, Melinda LaFollette, undergoes gall bladder surgery, forcing enactment of the 25th Amendment. Dubczak, sprinkling bits of history lessons throughout his script, reminds the audience of the chain of power in such instances. Through a snarky plot twist, the Vice President, now as acting President, finds a bottle labeled as Tylenol, takes two tablets for his headache, not knowing that the pills were laced with a powerful hallucinogenic. Important decisions must be made concerning a crisis in Turkey and an important education bill. And, “the most powerful person in the world” is flying higher than the space station. Choices are made, even when it appears that no good choices exist. Comedic ethical pandemonium ensues, and the audience is left wondering exactly how this twisted confab will unwind. Yet, unwind it does, carrying the audience to a worthy finale.
Carousel’s cast embraces its roles with enthusiastic aplomb. President Melinda LaFollette – the “drug-fighting president” – radiates in compassionate Commander-in-Chief glory thanks to Deb Hade. Having a woman character for this role gives hope outside this script to a future when a woman will finally achieve that office. In the pivotal VP Oswald Decatur role, Zach Jones brings a quickly unraveling comic ability to his role as the drugs takes hold, and his check on reality comes apart like the rubber bindings inside a split open golf ball. Displaying shades of “Madame Secretary” White House Chief of Staff, Russell Jackson, Dubczak adds performer to his list with this production as Marcus. Melissa Powell brings an earnest, hand-wringing aura to her Communications Advisor Barbara. The sidebar bickering-resolution action between these two provides the vehicle for much mischief from the hallucinating VP. As the incredibly well-connected Advisor, Richard Von Harban, Bryce Palm delivers a flamboyant, bigger-than-life persona. The buttoned-up boy scout, Admiral Fisher, provides an analytical, by-the-book balance thanks to Michael Stout Martin. Interjecting copious amounts of Gen Z attitude as Secretary Kelly is Laura Dubczak, with Rico Miller giving us a believable President’s son, Travis LaFollette. Travis is the catalyst for all the calamity, but no spoilers here. Add a cameo from a local community leader, then get to this fun escape to learn how that first delightful domino falls.
As director, Dubczak’s pacing needs tightening, and the script could use a little more fine-tuning. This show is, however, a fine feather in Carousel’s cap. Nestled in the intimate confines of Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Innovations, this set design earns strong praise for such a transformation of an event space into a tiered seating theater. The lessons layered into this script are thoughtfully delivered, without smacking the audience over their head.
Carousel Theatre of Indianola deserves kudos for their bold choices in programming. Delusions of Power opens a season of bare board fare designed to entice patrons to experience how a community theater can present provocative live theater entertainment. Audiences should relish their role as cultural adventurer as they sally forth to support these efforts. Blissfully, each attending patron will be able to escape all political ads for two glorious hours of fun and fancy. That, alone, is worth the price of admission.
The Culture Buzz theatre reviews are written by professional critics, to inform and enlighten. To receive weekly newsletters, email TheCultureBuzz@gmail.com or visit www.theculturebuzz.com. The Culture Buzz is a weekly broadcast/streaming arts & entertainment show, airing Wednesdays 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM Central Time on KFMG 98.9 FM and streaming at www.kfmg.org.