It’s one thing to be pissed, but the grotesque vaudeville that is John Clancy’s finger-wagging, America-bashing comedy (in a production at A Red Orchid Theatre) is the intellectual equivalent of slinging animal dung across the stage. Everyone’s entitled to a tantrum now and then—even playwrights; or perhaps especially playwrights—and I certainly dig Clancy’s remarkably profane verbosity; the script reads like a longshoreman’s guide to insults. And it’s not that I disagree with the play’s larger point. But man, does Clancy take his time getting there—and when he finally does, he hammers that sucker like a man paid by the swing. Guy Van Swearingen’s more-is-more direction doesn’t seem to be doing the play any favors, but it is certainly audacious. Fatboy, in the world of Clancy’s agitprop, is a stand-in for America—a bloated, murdering pig who takes what he wants and wants what he takes. He is “South Park”’s Cartman all grown up; a bloated, misanthropic, foul-mouthed Dickinson villain on steroids. It’s a compelling characterization, but as politically minded theater the play is shooting blanks. The metaphor and all its encompassing ideas are shoved down your throat in a fit of playwright outrage. Clancy doesn’t want you to think; he wants you to agree or get the fuck out. That being said, I kind of like what Steve Pickering has done with Fatboy—it’s as if he’s a bully trapped in one of those plastic sumo-wrestler thingies. Jennifer Engstrom, as his nympho wife, Queen Fudgie, is a marvelous-ugly cartoon brought to life—equal parts Carol Channing and Carol Burnett’s charwoman, with a dash of that supreme prehensile tackiness represented in all its glory on “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” If that ain’t American, I don’t know what is. (Nina Metz)
At A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N Wells, (312)943-8722. This production is now closed.