Kathleen Turner in Red Hot Patriot: The Kickass Wit of Molly Ivins Review – at the Geffen Playhouse


The new production of RED HOT PATRIOT: The Kickass Wit of Molly Ivins has been extended at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles until February 19, 2012. This 75 minute show is an opportunity to spend an evening enjoying two incredible women.  The first is Molly Ivins, a feisty, quick-witted Texas journalist who wrote for The Texas Observer as well as for other newspapers, including The New York Times and Washington Post.  Ivins was well known for her liberal political views and for skewering rich oil men and republican politicians in her columns.  The second woman that audiences will be delighted by is Hollywood icon, Kathleen Turner, who portrays Ivins on stage. 


Ms. Turner first burst onto the Hollywood scene in the 1981 sexy thriller, Body Heat. Turner was lusty and bold with a deep husky voice that made her unique.  Men were mesmerized by her and women wanted to be like her. Over the years, Turner starred in all kinds of diverse movies, including Romancing the Stone, Prizzi’s Honor, Peggy Sue Got Married, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Undercover Blues to name just a few.  But she will always be remembered most as the bold and lusty seductress from Body Heat. Now thirty years later, in Red Hot Patriot, Ms. Turner is still bold and lusty – but in a different way.  Her lusty voice and bold presence are used to highlight the witticisms and charisma of Molly Ivins – and Turner does it expertly.

The show begins with Ivins writing a column about her father, the “General.”  She talks to the audience, letting us in on her writing process, her relationship with her tough father and her affection for alcohol.  We later learn about her time at SmithCollege, her stints at The NY Times and Observer, and mainly, her opinions on the politicians of the day.  Ivins often wrote about George W. Bush, who she nicknamed “Shrub.” 


Along the way, we also get a feel for how it is to be a writer, and that it’s not always easy getting that column out.  She quips, “If I was my editor, I’d fire me” and classifies her editors as “mice training to be rats.”


The evening has lots of laughs as well as some poignant moments, when she talks of her first love who was killed in a motorcycle accident, and her second who died in the Vietnam War.  Other significant moments surface when we learn she developed breast cancer. Yet, all along, the courageous Ivins maintained her biting wit and sassy bravado as she fought the disease which ultimately claimed her life.  


Red Hot Patriot was written by twin sisters, Margaret Engel and Allison Engel who, not surprisingly, are journalists themselves.  Although first time playwrights, the Engels understand Ivins and it shows in their structure of the piece. David Esbjornson's direction includes a simple set along with projections on a rear screen which intermittently show photos from Ivin’s life. We are first introduced to the “morgue” where newspaper archives are kept; then we see her family, the General, and numerous politicians who were the butt of her amusing political commentary.   

Towards the end, Turner as Ivins tells us why “Instead of an eagle, condoms should be the national symbol.”  It’s hilarious, but you’ll have to see the play to find out why.

So head over to the Geffen Playhouse for an entertaining and touching evening that provides tons of laughs and a tidbit of political history. It’s a chance to learn about the colorful Molly Ivins and an opportunity to see the fabulous Kathleen Turner – they’re two very remarkable women who deserve your attention!

Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins
January 3 -February 19, 2012

Geffen Playhouse
10886 Le Conte Avenue
Los Angeles, CA  90024
(310) 208-5454

Photos by Mark Garvin from Philadelphia Theatre Company’s
World Premiere production of RED HOT PATRIOT (2010)


Molly Ivins - Kathleen Turner

Helper - Matthew Van Oss


Production Credits

Set Designer - John Arnone

Costume Designer - Beth Clancy

Lighting Designer - Daniel Ionazzi

Sound Design / Composition - Robert Milburn and Michael Bodeen

Projection Designer - Maya Ciarrocchi

Wig Designer - Paul Huntley

Production Stage - Manager Mary Michele Miner


Performance Schedule

Tuesday – Friday 8:00pm

Saturday 3:00pm; 8:00pm

Sunday 2:00pm; 7:00pm





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