As America finds itself in the middle of a seemingly endless political season, “Tail! Spin!” offers a glimpse into the more comedic side of government. The play, directed by USC alumnus Jason Stokes, offers comic relief by centering on the sex scandals of politicians Anthony Weiner, Mark Foley, Larry Craig and South Carolina’s own Mark Sanford. "Tail! Spin!" debuts at Trustus Theatre this Friday.
Much of the appeal of “Tail! Spin!” is that no line of dialogue is fabricated. Every sentence is taken verbatim from the speeches, interviews, leaked e-mails and raunchy text messages that the noted politicians engaged in. As one could expect, this might make the play all the funnier as audience members realize that real people sincerely said these things. The clever composition of the dialogue is only rivaled by the unique style of storytelling that the play offers.
The entire production has only four actors and one actress. The play is divided into four scenes and each scene focuses on a different politician. Throughout the scene, one actor will play the politician while the other four actors switch back and forth between different personas to further the storyline.
Stokes comments, “the fun and the challenge is, as an actor, you get to portray multiple characters within each scene. Even if you’re just the central character within that scene, you’re still creating a character and then throwing that one off and then going to another one as soon as the scene changes.”
The satire would be nothing without the actors, however. Each character is playedover-the-top, and the actors are interactive with the audience, as the “politicians” come to shake your hand before and after the performance. The intimate setting of Trustus Theatre only makes the play more charming.
“Tail! Spin!” is a hilarious take on the mistakes of people in power, but Stokes hopes that audience members will walk away thinking about something a little more serious once they are done laughing.
“I hope they step away and really realize that at their core [the politicians are] just four flawed human beings who did a really really stupid thing.”
The play is meant to evoke thought on such political issues as well as create a personal stance on the impact these scandals had on the politicians and our country.
“What is really important when it comes to American politics? Is it their sexual indiscretions, or is it the fact that they are not doing the job that their constituency sent them there to do? ... If that conversation can start, then I think that my cast has gone above and beyond anything that we could have hoped for,” Stokes said.
"Tail! Spin!" debuts Friday and runs through Sept. 17 at Trustus Theatre. Have a laugh and maybe come away with your own take on these political scandals.