I walked into Performance Works to see Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson by Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman presented by Fighting Chance Productions. Actually, not true.
I walked into the United States of America.
It wasn’t subtle at all, even outrageously so, and hilarious, like the show. The lights were red and blue and the stage within the stage was set up like a rock concert, with the band right in the middle, elevated from the rest of the set that resembled a barn, with actual sawdust and dirt on the floor. There was an American flag sticking out of Andrew Jackson’s pocket. There were banners with stars on them and even the solo cups the actors were holding were red and blue. I didn’t even know these things came in colours other than red.
Considering the fact Andrew Jackson was a terrible, murderous president, the musical is funny. Director Ben Bilodeau says that “[It] is a Wolf-in-Sheep’s-clothing of a show.” The dark truth about North American history is disguised with satire and comedy. The audience roar with laughter as the show plays with expectations and the comedy is refreshing and with pleasant surprises.
Artistic Director Ryan Mooney describes the show as “Green Day meets Hamilton” and it’s true, the music is very catchy and enjoyable. There is a reason, though, other than the subject of Andrew Jackson being somewhat controversial, that Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson isn’t Hamilton. Though the actors do a splendid job delivering the sharp satire, the pattern is evident and simply repeats itself. It gets old and predictable fairly quickly. The absurdity of it all is hilarious, but after a few scenes emphasizing how terrible Jackson was, it is hard to grasp the point of the whole story. Especially towards the end it’s uncertain what the playwright is trying to say, and the attempt to have the audience emphasize with Jackson falls flat.
The connections to Trump with the posters with a red cap and the sign, “Make America Great” is appreciated along with other fantastic directional and production choices. Putting the band centrestage is a risk, but with appropriate lighting the audiences’ attention is properly guided. It is impressive that there were little to no sound problems considering the guitars with amps built into them and the loud music in general.
It’s amazing that these talented actors can also play various instruments. Daniel Berube as Andrew Jackson is sprightly and his voice suits the music. Notable performances are Annastasia Brown and her chilling performance of “Ten Little Indians” and Christine Roskelley (Storyteller) and Thomas Chan(James Monroe), their quirky and unique acting brings life to the stage.
Overall, the writing of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is a questionable, but is produced and performed extremely well.
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson by Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman is running at the Performance Works October 27th- November 11th 8pm, with matinees on Saturday and Sundays 2pm.
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1979024655703169/