The author of I’m Gonna to Kill the President wants you to know that merely uttering the name of his play is a federal offense, so he’s helpfully tacked on the words “A Federal Offense” to the end of the title. Such subtlety is characteristic of this cheerfully sophomoric satire—an act of lowbrow political sedition that believes the only thing funnier than a ribald Bush joke is the same ribald Bush joke told over and over. Call it beating a dead elephant: With all the RNC-inspired art in the city this week, IGKTP isn’t bound to cause much of a stir, but it does manage to land a few well-timed punches amid all the jokey shadowboxing.
A brief prologue introduces us to Skip, an Abbie Hoffman-like relic whose attempt to blow up a Washington, D.C., restaurant goes awry (his girlfriend gets blown up instead). Skip flees to New York, where he befriends Fifi, an alienated NYU co-ed searching for meaning in a Starbucks universe. Old radicalism meets new, and Skip and Fifi embark on an adventure that takes them from the NYU dorms to a public bathroom in Kmart, back to Washington, and ultimately to Guantánamo Bay. From time to time, a giant green monster (symbolizing “mass media”) appears onstage to gobble up supporting characters and regurgitate them as compliant consumers.
The cast dives into this mess with the spontaneous verve of a top-notch improv troupe (too bad the actors’ names have been blacked out CIA-style on the program). But for all the manic energy on display, the best parts of the play come before and after the formal action. Before: The public must call the above telephone number for directions. A man with a Texas drawl tells you to wait on 10th Street between avenues A and B, from where you’ll be whisked away to a “secret location”—très Dick Cheney! And after: Without giving too much away, let’s just say that the onstage inanity comes to a shockingly abrupt end. Rest assured, you won’t be laughing as you exit the theater.