‘Lincoln 2020’ Asks a Pointed ‘What if,’ Offers a Choice, at the Hollywood Fringe Festival

“Lincoln 2020” at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, 2019. (Photo by Filup Molina/Courtesy of “Lincoln 2020”)

Fast-paced satire “Lincoln 2020,” written and produced by Holiday Kinard, and neatly directed by Colleen Labella, hits some very sharp political notes in their first-year effort at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, now playing at the Broadwater Second Stage.

Mirroring the debacle that was the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, this pointed satire asks a pretty good “What if” on a number of contemporary political, social, racial and LGBT issues in the aftermath of 2016–a blame for which we must both sling and shoulder–and all the while managing to be pretty damn funny.

Fringe veteran, Sacred Fools member, and cast member of the 2018 Best of Fringe award-winning “Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk,” Tim Kopacz plays the 16th President who has recently been reanimated and re-acclimated. Encouraged to run in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election by Tess Baker, a somewhat acerbic and determined campaign manager very crisply played by Allie Leonard, his character vacillates between his 19th-century attitudes and sensibilities, a desire he never knew he had (or did he?) and the contemporary ideals and freedoms of 21st-century America.

“Lincoln” takes a selfie for “Lincoln 2020” (Photo by Seri DeYoung/Courtesy of “Lincoln 2020”)

Labella, known for her work with IAMA Theatre Company and the Geffen Playhouse, skillfully directs the cast, which is often required to deliver staccato-like lines written by Kinard, à la “His Gal Friday,” and much of its timing falls right on the mark.

Monique Marie Gelineau sparkles as “April,” the overachieving assistant, Amandla Bearden’s “Hunter Haynes” very nicely sets some history straight, and completing the snappy campaign dream team is “Kenzie,” a bubbly millennial Instagram influencer played by Rebecca Knowles.

Most notable is the chemistry within the cast, specifically between the characters of the ensemble played by Dan Torson, Patrick Censoplano, Kristen Cook, Eric Delgado, and Adam Gentzler. All, separately and combined, play various characters of our beleaguered and jaded White House press corps, archetype and stereotype talking head anchors from “both sides” of opposing cable news channels, a German scientist, sleazy politicians, a lover, and a deity.

The ensemble cast does a lot of work here.

There are some very slick, quick changes where wig-slips and wardrobe adjustments are made to good comic effect, with lighting and projections designed by R.S. Buck and sound by Alex Mackyol, whose technical effects create the landscape that is Lincoln’s “new world.”

Also notable in a brief role as an interpreter to a deity, Cook provides some subtle physical comedy reminiscent of the brilliant Peggy Cass’s “Agnes Gooch” of Auntie Mame (1958.) As well is her character that’s the typification of every blond female news anchor, on a certain news channel of a conservative bent, that often seems determined to avoid actual reporting.

The play only slows a bit when Hillary-esque character, Mallory Britton, played by Janet Chung Chamberlain, and Tess, do a bit of reflecting on “the Presidency that should have been.”

The play offers a twist. As with our typically offered two-party candidate Presidential General elections, the audience will have a vote and a say on the two, so the play has two potential endings that will reflect your vote.

“Lincoln 2020” more pointedly addresses the question that, instead of  “What if…”— or “What would Obama do?,” “What would Hillary do?,” or even “What would Jesus do?”—then perhaps “What what would you do…right now?”

The deets: “Lincoln 2020“, plays Friday, 6/14 at 11 p.m., Thursday, 6/20 at 5 p.m., Friday, 6/21 at  p.m., Sunday, 6/23 at p.m., Wednesday, 6/26 at 8 p.m., and Saturday, 6/29 at 7 p.m., at the Broadwater Second Stage located at 6320 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038. Go to their calendar for tickets and more information.

The venue: The Broadwater houses the Sacred Fools theatre company, which also features The Plunge bar on site that is co-owned by Managing Director of Sacred Fools, Padraic Duffy (“Dallas”), Emily Kosloski (“Dallas,” “The Fosters”) and his father, actor Patrick Duffy (“Dallas”, “The Man from Atlantis,”) is situated on Theatre Row and participates in the Hollywood Fringe Festival annually.

Lincoln 2020 from Colleen Labella on Vimeo.

About Monique A. LeBleu

Monique A. LeBleu is a writer, photographer, videographer, and shameless foodie and wineaux. A love of film history and a background in film production, post-production, and film theory provide unique insights into her movie reviews. As well, a background in technical theater fuels her passion on all-things theater. As a foodie, living in the ever-growing and diverse culinary landscape that is the City of Los Angeles feeds her never-ending pursuit of the perfect comfort food—the world's best Mac n' Cheese!
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