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A CurtainUp Review
Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State
The two party system is the greatest political evil under our constitution. — Quinn quoting John Adams
Colin Quinn (Photo by Monique Carboni)
I cannot tell you why at some point during former Saturday Night Live performer Colin Quinn's latest and entertaining monologue why I started to hear a rewrite in my head of that rollicking song from Oklahoma, "Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends." You can be sure that this popular satirist somehow made it clear why they can't to the full house a recent preview. Of course, what he was making clear is the sharper than ever­divide between the liberals and the conservatives within this sprawling, culturally diverse community of ours ­ an increasingly inflexible one only bound together by such things as our Constitution, and by our presumed quest for a free and just society.

It is astonishing how tolerant Quinn is of us in his amiable posturing and in his impractical proposals. Casually dressed and always on his feet, he stops periodically for a gulp of water from a glass jar, as he keeps comforting the audience with his light hearted approach to our most pressing dilemmas.

As he explains it, no one, even someone somewhere between the hard right and hard left divide, has a chance to withstand, let alone survive, the often hypocritical and unbalanced policy-making of our politicos.

Quinn sticks it to us rather mildly but with just enough bite to occasionally make us wince. But survival is the key and Quinn, in his relaxed and unassuming way, has some very funny and astute observations to make about who we are and why things appear to be overly complicated and apparently unfixable.

Quinn has some solutions but divulging too much would spoil the fun for you. However, a closing highlight has him pointing to the wall behind him on which (with the help of lighting designer Aaron Copp) each state within the Union gets its own light as he defines its most distinctive characteristic and the personality of its people. It's an often hilarious bull's eye.

Yes, he nails it, targeting the underlying certainties and absurdities that has made our country different from all the others. Is it "great" or just "the greatest," as both sides have stated? How can we argue with his arguments about each side ("The red states will continue to hate Hollywood, the New York Times and get their faith from Corinthians. . . the blue states have no use for tobacco, dairy and carbs and get their faith from the Chomsky Reader").

Quinn does express his fear of a civil war with this quote, "The problem with war is it makes idiocy contagious." While it would be easy enough to go on quoting Quinn, I think you get the drift of what he is trying to do with his formidably down-to-earth lecture. . . basically a call for compromise ("This country was based on compromise. . . because most people are mentally ill.).
As you might expect, Quinn also warns us of our obsession with the social media ("just because Trump's a compulsory tweeting totalitarian psychopath doesn't mean that you're not one.")

Under the unnoticed, as it should be, direction of Bobby Moresco, Quinn paints a portrait of our nation's future that is as warmly caustic as it is harshly comical. Those who have y enjoyed and been invigorated by Quinn's perspective in previous shows will assuredly embrace this one. It is scheduled to be recorded live for release as an audio play by one of the lead producers Audible, an audio and spoken word media service.

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Colin Quinn Red State Blue State
Written and performed by Colin Quinn
Scenic Design: Edward T. Morris
Lighting Design: Aaron Copp
Sound Design: Sam Kusnetz
Production Stage Manager: Mary Cate Mangum
Running Time: 1 hour 10 minutes no intermission
Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane
Performances: Tuesday - Saturday at 7:30 pm, with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm and a Sunday evening show at 6:30 pm.
From 01/05/19 Opened 01/22/19 Ends 03/03/19
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 01/20/19

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