Is George W. Bush a WASP, or merely a crypto-fascist criminal? This isn’t the central question of A.R. Gurney’s new play, Mrs. Farnsworth, but it’s the one Jim Simpson’s production left me asking. Gurney has so much fun here with his longstanding game of WASP-teasing that he sometimes gets it mixed up with his more recent favorite sport, Bush-bashing. But the menace Dubya offers to civilization’s survival comes from his policies, not his ethnicity. Gurney spin-doctors an amusing tale about a high-WASP housewife, trying to write a novel that narrates her unpleasant experience back in her college days with a Yale man who knocked her up, ditched her, and committed two or three nastier crimes on his way out of their entanglement. Is the guy our Shrub? Is the heroine’s haughty-jawed hubby trying to suppress her unwritten book? Or is this all so much Manchurian candy-floss?
As indirect character assassination goes, it’s elegantly done. But character assassination is wasted on Frankenstein’s monster; what we need are villagers with torches. Till the marching starts, Mrs. Farnsworth will serve well enough to keep the troops smiling, what with Sigourney Weaver’s breath-catching beauty in the title role, and John Lithgow in grand caricature mode as her jovially sinister spouse.