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THEATER REVIEW Mike Pence Sex Dream
by Jonathan Abarbanel, Windy City Times
2019-03-05

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Playwright: Dan Giles

At: First Floor Theater @ The Den, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tickets: FirstFloorTheater.com; $25. Runs through: March 16

I don't understand why some gays incorrectly insist that Vice-President Mike Pence is/was gay.

Why-oh-why would the gay community want him—even to prove his hypocrisy? Still, with that close-clipped white hair, steely eyes and an aura of power, Pence is a DILF! Combine these things and you have a reason why handsome young Gary ( Scott Shimizu ) has disturbing dreams in which the veep is a sexual predator and Gary his eager victim.

Gary's dream life is unaffected by his recent marriage to dress-wearing schoolteacher Ben ( Collin Quinn Rice ). It's Gary's waking life as an advertising exec that's pertinent: he cheats on Ben with a powerful client, Tom ( Gage Wallace ), in order to win the Smokey Farms Bacon account and launch a successful career.

At heart, this 85-minute three-actor piece is a treatise or tract play about selling out. Succumbing to power, money, fame or some combination thereof has been a subject from the Old Testament to Greek tragedy to Shakespeare to many contemporary writers. The motives and methods never change, only the circumstances and names. In this world premiere, playwright Dan Giles wants to make a contemporary political point in addition to the ages-old story, which is why a Trump zombie is the personification of power, cynicism and ethical rot. Dream Pence has far more realpolitik sense than the other characters, and that's Giles' dangerous message to us: the values we hold dear—even if we don't verbalize them well—are in danger of corruption from the top ... and being gay actually has very little to do with it.

I expected Mike Pence Sex Dream to be a comedy, which it definitely isn't, although there are funny moments ( especially at the beginning ) and sharp barbs throughout. Giles gives Pence, preparing for a state dinner, this double-edged comment: "Dinner is for family, not for sycophants and diplomats." And Gary says of his own advertising, "It's a rebranding campaign for carcinogenic meat." Indeed, you never may eat pork again after seeing this play.

The players are capable and then some under seasoned director Hutch Pimentel, with Wallace and Rice doubling at various times as dream Pence. The plot is thin and the characters—especially Tom—are not particularly fleshed-out, but that's not unusual in a play where the purpose is the message and not the story. There's a dream-like, unreal quality to the play and production, from Gary's too-easy seduction to a hazy stage and flexible, mirror-like set ( William Boles designer ). Uriel Gomez's costumes are great, especially Ben's outfits, but the vice-presidential wig misses: Mike Pence does not have Phil Donahue's hair.

FYI: I spent 10 years in advertising and wrote "America spells cheese K-R-A-F-T.


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