The Idiot King
reviewed by Michael Lazan

Susana Cook's dizzy, silly political extravaganza The Idiot King is the kind of wonderfully coordinated ensemble theatre piece you rarely see anymore.

Clad in dramatic, flamboyant garb, dripping with wild-eyed charisma and poise, Cook is the writer, director, and star of this series of sketches about a conservative, moronic king who confers with his queen, the Pope, his obsequious staff, and various underlings. The writing is so refreshingly broad that it doesn't take itself too seriously. In fact, Cook has the temerity to open the piece with a fart joke, setting an appropriately absurd tone for one of the most entertaining pieces I have seen about the foibles of the current American regime. When The Idiot King ends abruptly after about an hour, you want more.

As a performer, Cook is in charge from the get-go, rolling around in shoe skates, gesturing, and babbling believably like a demonic, dunderhead dictator. A group of performers enter and join her in the absurdity, which includes a variety of amusing musical dance sequences. Erin Markey as The Queen gets guffaws on virtually every line with her high-pitched, dizzy-blonde persona. The Pope (Anni Amberg) enters and ultimately asks for a check to be made out to "p-o-p-e." The rest of the group, including Jennifer Fomore (The Nurse and The Singer), José Maria Garcia Armenter (The Groom Bride), Tracy Hazas (Gang Member and Head of Intelligence), Karen Jaime (Master of Counterinsurgency), and Julian Mesri (Tutor and Secretary of War) whisper to each other, smile broadly, roll their eyes, and generally have a great time — as did I.


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© Susana Cook 2009