Less is more, a cliched phrase that finds true meaning in W.C Turck’s production of The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden. With three actors, a stool, a smartphone, and some laser pointers, the show satirized one of the year’s most buzzworthy stories.
Friday, November 15th, at Berger Park Mansion in Rogers Park, the play finished its short-lived run with an intimate setting and an intrigued audience. Catherine Povinelli, as Russian intelligence agent Natasha, burst into the theatre and made the Russian setting know with an exaggerated and endless adoration for Putin. Next, Nick Haugland as Edward Snowden and Arne Saupe as a NSA agent entered the scene and the drama started rolling.
With the structure of a news conference, the play has Natasha pass along questions to Snowden. Some questions delve into the ethical issues of the NSA leaks, while others are played for comic relief as they cause the three actors to bicker like children.
As funny as it is thought-provoking, co-directors, Erik Parsons and Celia Forest production does not gloss over the issues with the NSA nor the conundrum of Snowdon seeking asylum in a country such as Russia. The country’s recent law against gay propaganda is one joke handled wonderfully, with many jabs at Putin. Ironically, Saupe’s NSA character soon realizes the many similarities he has with Natasha and her twisted, Russian organization. This soon points to the message of the show: the government knows all.
While the show never takes a prominent stance on pro or con Snowden, it does make it clear that the government knows basically everything about its citizens. The US does it all in secret, but the Russians do it out in the open and do not plan on being stopped. It seems privacy is old school now.
The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden brings a unique and refreshing voice to the independent theatre scene in Chicago. This makes it worse that this play had such a short run. Whether the show will be picked up again remains to be seen, but the subject matter has plenty of appeal and it has the wit to go far!