December 2008 - Looking over the STAGE
"HERE COMES THE CHANGE"
Review by Emma Kay Smith
Bina Sharif has - by dint of crisp originality and keen, innate intelligence,- once again scaled a fresh terrain of new ideas
and wit in her 90 minute, shrewd, captivating Bush/Obama laugh-maker, "Here Comes The Change", currently under way at Theater
for New City in the East Village.
To be sure, "Here Comes The Change", is only nearly perfect . (The last time I looked, I found "Of Mice and Men", "Glengarry
Glen Ross", and "The Birthday Party" to be the nearest perfect threesome of true, modern stagecraft and writing). As penned
and directed by Sharif in her 18th outing at TNC, "Here Comes The Change" is razor sharp in its one-line zingers, all safely
nestled in fresh dramatic substance and lucidity - on location at the First Christmas in Bethlehem, and climaxing with
the 2008 U.S. election victory of Barack Obama.
The main thrust of "Here Come The Change"stems from its comic timeliness, blended in a mix of parody and realism, in which
the former outweighs the latter. At the outset we are treated to modernistic marital woes: passionless ties
of Joseph and Fatima (a.k.a. heretofore in Bible lore as the Virgin Mary); poor communication between the spouses Fatima,
(played wittily by Sharif, who is also later a TV moderator as well as "Katie Couric") and Joseph (he is quite surprised that
she is expecting). When baby is born, he is the new and TALL Obama/Jesus, who will - one day - become everyone's "savior".
Time will tell if the "savior" of recent electoral hopes will have an impact. In the meantime, this new effort by Sharif
does indeed have an impact and it is an awully good one from start to finish.
With a clean, cool dash of fine lighting design by Alex Bartenieff, "Here Comes The Change" moves smoothly from hilarious
- and intriguing - scene to scene as it explores the political parlance of the 2008 campaign, replete with the skilled device
of exploring the well publicized media preoccupation of materialistic non-issues: McCain residences, Palin's wardrobe as well
as her controversial "reading list" (she's TV literate),and Obama's roots. In a basic sense, "Here Comes The Change" is a
superb, raucous send-up by Sharif, intelligently challenging our own day-to-day political sensibilities. She does this well
by capturing the endless absurdity of our very own mass media regurgitation of trivia versus real things that matter: war
(and maybe unjust war, as we all know by now), the economic mess given us by the greedy conservatives and their confederates
on Wall Street, the poor education of our youth, growing homelessness, - and on and on. In our new political climate, we
are all hoping for better things. Is Sharif reminding us of the maxim, "Be careful of what it is that uou wish for, - for
you might get it"? Truth be told, it is too early to tell: Obama's is not in office yet.
The acting in "Here Comes The Change" is generally very good among some, while sometimes uneven among others. However, leading
the standouts is Sharif herself in all three afore-mentioned parts; her comic sense and timing are right-on, and virtually
matchless; next are Jonathan Weber (as a side-splitting, bumbling McCain), Sonia Torres (the appropriately irritating Sarah
Palin), and Kevin Mitchell Martin (an excellent rendition of a self-impressed Bush).
"Here Comes The Change" is a clever, intelligent, and challenging barrel of laughs.
With: Jordan Gallagher, Raul Jennings, Kevin Mitchell Martin, Omar Robinson, Bina Sharif, Oliver Thrum, Sonia Torres, and
Theater for the New City
155 First Avenue (10th Street) in the East Village
"Here Comes The Change" runs Thurs - Sun, Dec. 18 - Jan. 4;
Thur - Sat at 8:00, Sun. at 3:00