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Oval Workplace feminist farce ‘POTUS’ flounders at Berkeley Rep

The Oval Workplace will get bent within the cartoonish political satire “POTUS: Or, Behind Each Nice Dumbass Are Seven Ladies Attempting to Maintain Him Alive.”

It ought to be famous that the president doesn’t truly seem in Selina Fillinger’s not-so-frothy feminist farce, which frequently falls flat in its regional premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Nevertheless, the purpose that the patriarchy is alive and nicely in American politics is nicely taken. On this over-the-topical Beltway spoof, seven badass ladies twist themselves into pretzels each day to make the commander-in-chief appear to be barely much less of a putz.

Directed by Annie Tippe, this crazy lampoon tries far too onerous to tickle the humorous bone with its tacky inventory caricatures, nonstop profanity, and dated political zingers. There are quite a few bawdy jokes, from phallic gags to a operating bit about breastfeeding, however not one of the vigorous vulgarity feels notably edgy. The tart social commentary about gender bias additionally evokes extra wry smiles than full-throttle laughter.

When the POTUS makes a PR gaffe that spins uncontrolled, it’s all fingers on deck, from the harried chief of workers Harriett (Deirdre Lovejoy of “The Wire” fame) to the put-upon press secretary (Kim Blanck). They valiantly attempt to hold the trains operating whilst catastrophe lurks within the type of nuclear negotiations and the president’s girlfriend, the ditzy slurpee-guzzling Dusty (a hilarious Stephanie Types) and his hard-boiled drug-running sister (Allison Guinn) arrange camp at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

They each have explosive information to share whereas a frazzled reporter (Dominique Toney) hunts for a scoop and the Michelle Obama-esque first woman (Stephanie Pope Lofgren) tries onerous to look extra “earthy.” Doorways are slammed, sculptures flung and liaisons launched in corridor closets.

Regardless of a couple of scrumptious moments, together with the primary woman’s passionate ode to the pleasures of searching sport and Dusty’s really lovely battle mediation by way of cheerleading, the shtick too not often hits its mark right here.

Tippe, who additionally directed the memorable “Octet,” doesn’t hold the tempo quick and livid sufficient and the comedian timing typically feels off, with some punchlines rushed, and others dragged out well past the purpose of persistence. Farce ought to really feel gentle and easy at its finest however right here the humorous traces typically really feel compelled and formulaic.

A gag with a recurring crude title for a feminine physique will get previous quick. The ill-fated standing of the presidential posterior additionally options prominently. Each might need tickled if the timing have been tighter and sharper.

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