POTUS Review – Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive

POTUS Poster - Photo by Justin Bettman
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Written by Selina Fillinger and directed by Jennifer Chambers, POTUS takes a raucous romp through the White House in an irreverent farce about the men who hold power vs. the women who get the job done. Originally published in book form in 2022, the tale was a perfect fit for a stage farce, also penned by Fillinger, a talented performer and writer. To quote the author: “I really didn’t feel like I needed to do any research; I have been all of these women.”

Celeste Den, Ito Aghayere, Shannon Cochran, Jane Levy, and Deirdre Lovejoy – Photo by Jeff Lorch

POTUS opened on Broadway in 2022 and was nominated for both Tony and Drama League awards. Although reviews were mixed, Washington Post critic Peter Marks compared the show favorably to that of a mix between “Saturday Night Live” and “Veep.” Variety enthusiastically praised the comedic ensemble cast. Now the Geffen Theatre brings POTUS to Los Angeles in 2024.

Alexandra Billings, Jane Levy, Celeste Den, Deirdre Lovejoy, Shannon Cochran, Lauren Blumenfeld, and Ito Aghayere – Photo by Justin Bettman

The time is modern: “Not the current administration, necessarily…but broad strokes of past leaders, combined with stress dreams of future ones. And, if we’re being honest, an amalgamation of them all.” The place is unmistakable: The White House. The subtitle of the play says it all: “Behind every great dumbass are seven women trying to keep him alive.” Although POTUS never makes it onstage, we know from the get-go that he is the dumbass the title refers to. The stage is populated by the women in his life, from his ambitious and relatively indifferent wife Margaret (Alexandra Billings) to Dusty (Jane Levy), his current squeeze, who just happens to be pregnant. The other women in his orbit include Chris (Ito Aghayere), Stephanie (Lauren Blumenfeld), Harriet (Shannon Cochran), Jean (Celeste Den), and Bernadette (Deirdre Lovejoy). Each lady has a vested interest in building up the President’s reputation while rescuing him from the gaffes he is prone to make. And his latest gaffe has quickly morphed into an international incident.

Jane Levy and Lauren Blumenfeld – Photo by Jeff Lorch

Director Chambers does an excellent job of keeping the action – and the laughs – flowing. The ensemble cast – all female at that – does a riotous interpretation of how to be super heroes against all odds. Set and video designer Brett J. Banakis does a yeoman’s job of creating an immense – and fluid – West Wing. Samantha C. Jones’ costumes, Elizabeth Harper’s lighting, and Lindsay Jones’ original music and sound all contribute to the perfect moment for everything to go wrong.

Ito `Aghayere and Alexandra Billings – Photo by Jeff Lorch

POTUS is a real audience pleaser. As the crowd filed out at the end of the show, people were still chuckling and smiling – and some were holding a balloon. At times, the show became a bit grubby and concerned with female (and one male’s) bodily functions – but this only seemed to enhance the audience’s enjoyment. After all, it was all in fun and geared to entertain. Messages? Three cheers for feminism helmed and performed by an all-female cast. On the other hand, as a comic summary of various POTUSES over the last 50 years, it was also a little scary. The hallowed halls of the White House may never be the same.

Shannon Cochran, Lauren Blumenfeld, and Alexandra Billings – Photo by Jeff Lorch

POTUS runs through February 25, 2024, with performances at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sunday. The Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse is located at 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Tickets range from $39 to $129. For information and reservations, call 310-208-2028 or go online.

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