Mike Schlitt’s one man show, Patriot Act, is pretty much what you would expect to hear if you asked for the first of a three-part series in “how we got to here, politically.” From the Founding Fathers — specifically Adams and Jefferson, presented as somewhat foul-mouthed and deranged-looking hand puppets — through Jim Crow and all the way to the concept of corporate personhood and what the Constitution means when it says “All men are created equal.”
Schlitt goes about breaking down the terms “men,” “created,” and “equal,” acting much like a teacher — albeit the “cool” teacher — leading the pre-exam discussion. There are question and answer breaks and people are called on to voice their opinions about cultural equality and political representation. Heck, there’s even a snack break. This is all to say that it isn’t really a “show” show. It’s more of a survey in basic American political science told amusingly but somewhat awkwardly by someone who feels passionately about what we’re going through as a nation and concerned about where we’ll go from here.
What Schlitt makes up for in content he lacks in organization. There’s clearly a lot to say on the subject, so he set his desktop countdown clock for 47 minutes before diving in. As the discussion continued, he continued to note the remaining minutes with increasing concern. One missed phone cue and a couple of lost thoughts into the performance, as the clock neared the five-minute mark, he actually seemed surprised by how little time was left and much content left to cover.
Emergent panic does nothing for performance quality. What I will say is that first shows, like the one I attended, are usually the ones performers use to see what works, what doesn’t, and get out the kinks. Considering his ample experience and body of work, it’s likely that this will just get better with practice. If the least you get out of it is a history refresher, that’s not a bad thing either. And there are always the cookies.
Photography by Shawn Stoner
Remaining performances: Wednesday August 24 @ 9:15pm, Saturday August 27 @ 9:15pm, and Sunday August 28 @ 5:15pm at Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company (70 East 4th Street – Lower Level — Bowery & 2nd Avenue).