Among the victims of COVID-19, at least in the world of entertainment, has been the popular political satire troupe, The Capitol Steps, which could not survive the two years of performance pause. But since nature abhors a vacuum, a new company, dubbed DC’s Reflecting Fools, has cropped up to take its place.
And since the Fools feature song parodies by Mark Eaton – who penned much of the Capitol Steps’ material – performances by a half-dozen former Steps members and piano accompaniment by Howard Breitbart – a 27-year veteran of the group – theatergoers should be forgiven for feelings of déjà vu. In fact, if the Reflecting Fools moniker were not projected on the upstage wall of the Kravis Center’s Rinker Playhouse throughout the 90-minute revue, you would swear you were watching the latest edition of the Steps’ musical shenanigans.
While politics grows increasingly divisive and mean-spirited as we approach the midterm elections, there would seem to be little opportunity for humor, but the Reflecting Fools find plenty of it. Often that means keeping the comedy broad and obvious. President Biden is old and a language mangler, Donald Trump is a buffoon and Congress is a bunch of money-wasting ne’er-do-wells. OK, so this is not the show if you are seeking trenchant political insights, but Tuesday’s opening night audience did not seem to mind.
Instead, go for the song parodies and for the performances. Among the standout numbers is one delivered by a singing gas pump (“What Kind of Fuel Am I?”), a duet between President Biden and his Vice President Kamala Harris (“Elderly and Ovaries”) and an ode to Dr. Fauci to the tune of “Mr. Sandman.”
Neither the Rinker’s program nor the Reflecting Fools website identifies the cast by the numbers they perform, which is aggravating. The company consists of Jon Bell, Evan Casey, Kevin Corbett, Nancy Dolliver, Emily Levey and Jack Rowles. Whoever plays Mitch McConnell excels at collapsing his face into a triple chin and to speaking pure mush. The same goes for the performer who briefly plays Bob Dylan, incomprehensible but with a distinct twang. And whoever it is hiding behind those aviator sunglasses does a canny Biden impersonation.
Graduating from The Capitol Steps to the Reflecting Fools would seem an ideal time to jettison the spoonerism monologue, which has long since worn out its welcome. Unfortunately, it remains in the show and, if anything, seems to have been expanded.
One of the prime assets of The Capitol Steps is the way the group would keep their material fresh and topical, adding in new numbers quickly in response to the headlines. While this inaugural Reflecting Fools show is reasonably entertaining, it feels like musical numbers gathered over the past two years, which is probably what it is. Including more current, edgier subjects – Marjorie Taylor Greene, Hershel Walker, Dr. Oz perhaps – would perk up the production considerably.
DC’s Reflecting Fools, Kravis Center Rinker Playhouse, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Through Sunday, Nov. 6. $45. 561-832-7469 or www.kravis.org.