Political Theater – ‘The Parisian Woman’
Beau Willimon’s new play, The Parisian Woman, delivers a brassy one-two jab, showcasing the DC establishment in all its Shakespearean irony, riotous entropy and relentless power-jockeying.
We’re all living through a political paradigm shift, which means that our lives feel insanely surreal, with everything at stake and in spin. In this vein, dramatist Beau Willimon just dropped his newest political potboiler, The Parisian Woman (directed by Pam MacKinnon and starring Uma Thurman), at NYC’s Hudson Theater. He’s the creative brains behind Farragut North and The Ides of March, a politically riveting but ribald Shakespearean saga you probably watched with your parents a few election cycles ago (starring George Clooney). Beau also spawned the super hit series “House of Cards” that you binge-view on Netflix sometimes with your boo (starring Keyser Söze, aka disgraced space cadet Kevin Spacey).
Beau’s latest feat is another highly politicized doozy that takes on all the trappings of the “Washington Swamp” — a tableau of shifty political uppercrusters who vie for clout and liaise in roguish and risqué ways.
The plot follows a Washington power couple caught up in all the dodgy quid pro quo dealings of the Belt Way bubble. Uma Thurman plays Chloe, a coy and cunning socialite who once lived it up in Paris (the play was inspired by Henri Becque’s 1880s drama “La Parisienne” — hence the title). She courts controversy every inch of the way and conspires to get an edge for herself and her politically-motivated hubbie, Tom (played by Josh Lucas), who is seeking a judgeship on the Fourth Circuit. There are lies, leaks, sexcapades and subterfuge aplenty, with a spot-on take on all the pandering and piddle-paddling that goes down in DC.
Drama unfolds as the couple angles for power, prestige and a place in DC’s pendulating socio-political nexus.
The Parisian Woman boils over with melodrama, sapphic subplots and plenty of Machiavellian machinations. We love the act for its intriguing, au courant parody of the Washington pecking order and the way it pantomimes the countless spheres of influence that collide on K street, Capital Hill and in Kalorama’s swanky bed suites late at night.
Leveling a rather caustic (and legit) critique at the absurdity and illiberal policy approaches of the new admin (Beau worked for Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton back in the day), and referencing the terms and tumult that has infected our daily discourse and invaded our collective consciousness (“fake news”, “snowflakes,” “alternative facts”… yadda, yadda), The Parisian Woman is a stylish and cerebral package about our shifty political times. Kudos to Beau & Co. for delivering another captivating allegory.
VIVISXN MEDIA – Art + Culture + Theater + Politics