Featured photo for A Hammer A Bell review

Last January’s version was clearly an “audience show,” with a fair amount of sing-along to what has become familiar music, mostly of the folk variety. All of the cast members were solid, but Mr. Crossland, a newbie to theatre, impressed with his tenor lead vocals – not surprising, as Mr. Crossland’s mentor was San Diego native John Stewart of the Kingston Trio. Somehow, though, the moment has passed. In January, we could empathize with a cast that had been assembled for a Pete Seeger tribute (Mr. Armstrong even looks a little like Mr. Seeger) and then had to revise suddenly when Mr. Seeger withdrew his support. We could root openly for the sympathetic comments about the Occupy movement. We could watch with studied horror as the Republican Party tried out an ever more conservative, anti-protest, set of presidential favorites.

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You’ve probably guessed that we’ve got a satire going here, and, in fact, there’s quite a few laugh-out-loud lines. There’s also some pretty good send-ups of media conventions, some references to Obama and Romney that will be dated in six weeks, a funny “debate” about religion, and a lot of references that theatre insiders will catch. In fact, if audiences for The Exit Interview could consist entirely of other actors, it would be uproarious.

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Seeing San Diego REP’s excellent season-opening production of Zoot Suit left me wondering about the role of politics in theatre and theatre in politics. It’s doubtful that the theatre will impinge much into the upcoming presidential race (though President Obama held a fundraiser on Broadway recently and has seen at least a couple of Broadway…

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