Thursday, August 12, 2010

Abraham Lincoln's Big, Gay Dance Party

“Abraham Lincoln’s Big, Gay Dance Party” is a pretty amusing title. No doubt about it. Whether Aaron Loeb’s play is actually any good is another issue entirely. In fact, it’s a real stinker.

The two-hour-plus political comedy premiered as part of last year’s New York International Fringe Festival, the annual August event crowded by over 200 shows with the craziest titles imaginable.

It begins with an Illinois fourth-grade teacher presenting a Christmas pageant. In an unexpected addition to the script, the children declare that Abraham Lincoln engaged in a gay relationship with his pal Joshua Fry Speed.

The teacher is soon on trial for corrupting the kids. The cast tells the audience that it can choose the order of three 40-minute acts that recount the trial from the perspectives of the defense attorney, the prosecutor and a famous journalist.

All three acts are slow, unfunny and poorly acted soap operas dealing with political espionage instead of Lincoln’s sexuality. Except for a few obviously didactic points, the play is completely ineffective as political theater.

Occasionally, the seven-member ensemble prances around while dressed in Lincoln costumes and waving flags. During these moments, they project a silly comedic spirit that is otherwise suffocated by the play’s idiotic plotting.

In spite of what may have been a noble intention on the part of the playwright to discuss Lincoln’s ambiguous sexuality, there is simply no redeeming value whatsoever to “Abraham Lincoln’s Big, Gay Dance Party.” That is, besides the title.

“Abraham Lincoln’s Big, Gay Dance Party” plays through September 5 at
Theater Row.
410 W. 42nd St., 212-239-6200,


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