“Politics is personal, Zag, It’s got consequences”, says Ratzkoff to his editor friend, Zag Henley. At the onset of Body Politics , “Ratz” is preparing to bring down Senator Richard “Dick” McLean who is ramping up his bid for re-election . Ratzkoff has a personal vendetta towards him over a new controversial drug that will soon hit the market-just as long as it is approved by the FDA- a decision which rests heavily in the hands of the golden boy Senator. His outspoken stamp of approval could cost him votes- every candidate’s worst fear. Adding to his pressure cooker campaign is JJ Gash, a bombshell pharmaceuticals female lobbyist, who once had a fling with McLean. In typical Washington fashion, this quartet provides the backdrop for a gritty, gripping, and often funny tale of political spin and corruption.
I’m not typically accustomed to writing reviews of industry readings. I don’t believe that it is fair to writers who are working through the creative process. Yet a month or so ago, I was invited by a friend to simply be a spectator of this brand new work by playwright Jean-Daniel Noland. Afterwards, I was introduced to Noland and the play’s director, Adam LeGrant. I commended them both on an extremely well written piece and was excited to learn that it currently being developed into a fully staged production. As an advocate of quality playwriting, I felt compelled to promote it.
I’m a firm believer in the notion that politics is the perfect breeding ground for theatrical ideas. All we need to do is read a newspaper article about the latest DC scandal-and the cover-ups that follow- to realize that the drama writes itself. Fortunately, Noland has perfectly captured the language of this political landscape. His conniving characters reflect the incessant jockeying that occurs behind closed doors. Gash claims that she came to 15 years prior “to make a difference in people’s lives, makes things better.” Mclean concurs stating, “That’s what Washington is all about. Making things better for people who support us.” Gash continues to pour her heart out to Mclean about her mother’s blood disorder and the pill that cured it- A pill that was developed by Gash’s company, Remelix. Mclean doesn’t quite buy it adding, “Remelix write that little speech for you? They should have put a warning on it: Side effect: this speech might cause gagging.” Like most real life politicians, Noland’s players have lost their noble cause for benevolence in the mire of power, cynicism, and money. Art reflecting life?
Body Politics is a slick, well-carved, troubling, but ultimately entertaining look at how our elected officials often don’t work, but how well writing about them does. I look forward to future incarnations of this impressive debut from Noland.