In many ways Barack Obama made history with his presidential victory in 2008. However, in this latest Fremont Centre Theatre World Premiere, it seems that no credential is good enough for a disapproving mother-in-law.
President Barack Obama ( Derek Reid) has a world of problems on his hands, and the economy is the least of them. An insidiously predatory Right Wing media machine constantly nipping at his heels with curt criticism. And VP Joe Biden ( Chris Smith) wanders from room to room, being less than helpful with mostly anything. And his mother-in-law Marian ( LaKendra Tookes) is not making it any easier. Daily, First Lady Michelle ( Constance Reese) must referee between her husband and mother. Even as Barack insists on spoiling the girls, Malia ( Alexis Matthews) and Sasha ( Nay Nay Kirby), in the same breathe his insists that his mother in law is plotting against him.
It sounds like paranoid, but it turns out to be true. Marian openly and loudly disrespects him. She constantly tries to sabotage him through his kids with talk of “enemies lists” and by enumerating the many ways he is NOT a great African-American leader. She plans packs of cigarettes in his clothes and files to jam him up with Michelle. All this in an effort to emasculate Barack into becoming the man Marian thinks he should be.
Ultimately, Barack gets fed up enough to send mother-in-law Marian to Guantanamo for leaking classified secrets. But the question remains: who should be more worried: The First Granny or Gitmo?
Oh, Momma! & Obama is…an experience. More an collection of extended comedy sketches than a play, the self-proclaimed “White House Comedy” is more of a chuckle than a round of belly laughs. Writers Derek Reid, Nicholas Zill and Kenneth McLeod deal their actors a very easy hand with this piece, aiming only for the low hanging fruit. The show never takes itself seriously, which is a shame. There is a richness in this material that is left un-mined. The show makes the effort to be humorous, but does not take the extra steps to try and be “real”, the single ingredient needed to be truly funny.
There are five musical numbers that help it add favor and energy to a show that is pretty much one note. The best of these songs would be “I Feel Your Pain,” featuring a stiff Barack under the tutelage of a wise and loose Bill Clinton.
I can’t in good conscience tell you to go see this show. Derek Reid and LaKendra Tookes are well-matched comic sparing partners and the best reason to check this show out. But this dymanic duo's performances are not enough to transform this one-dimensional skit-circle into satisfying entertainment.
Just one girl’s opinion.
Oh Momma! & Obama is running now through April 17, 2011 at:
Fremont Centre Theatre
1000 Fremont Avenue
South Pasadena, CA 91030