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Lucy Komisar

"The Parisian Woman" is a Good/Bad Play About Political Corruption

"The Parisian Woman."
Written by Beau Willimon, directed by Pam MacKinnon.
Hudson Theatre, 141 West 44th St, New York City.
November 30, 2017 - March 11, 2018.
Tickets: 855-801-5876; http://parisianwomanbroadway.com/

(L-R) Uma Thurman as Chloe, Josh Lucas as Tom, Marton Csokas as Peter. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

This is a very good /bad play. Actually, it's a staged TV sitcom. It hits all the political bases, as they do. I enjoyed it, as I might a sitcom if I ever saw them (I don't), but great drama it is not. The most is to call it a trenchant satire.

So, we enter the upper-class townhouse, with its white couch and high sideboard, (there will be a terrace). Peter (Marton Csokas) is spying on the phone of Chloe (the always sharp Uma Thurman). She in blonde ponytail wears jeans and black heels. What does that say? Not comfort. (Jeans comfort, heels not) A certain carefully scripted cool sexiness.

The dialogue: "Once you've destroyed trust what do you have left? Do you love me? A little less every day."

The first good joke: Her husband is coming, Peter is jealous. So, this spying guy is her lover!

Now we learn about upscale lives. Tom (Josh Lucas) is a tax lawyer who wants to be a judge. He contributes to campaigns and has a lot of powerful friends.

The affair is silly. More interesting are other conflictive interactions. Husband Tom puts her down.

They will suck up to Jeanette (Blair Brown) a rich woman who gives money to support people who support her kind. She likes Trump, "We have good people around him."

(L-R) Uma Thurman as Chloe, Blaire Brown as Jenette. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

A charmer, later Tom will regret that, "I didn’t build anything. I'm a parasite." Build anything? A corporate tax lawyer is by definition a crook. He is hired to help clients cheat on taxes. Doesn't everyone know that now? (Offshore companies and accounts, Delaware, Switzerland, Grand Cayman, etc., hold 10% of the world's wealth. The US Congress, bought by the rich, thinks that is fine.)

All a lawyer helping clients evade taxes has to do is send some corrupt millions to a university or museum and get his name on the door. And the media will fawn.

This play takes a few popular memes, including campaign corruption and tax evasion, and dumbs it down to sit-com proportions. The playwright should have gotten a bit more serious to discuss the rampant thievery.

More grungy stuff follows, including some lesbian blackmail, but hey, there are great lounging clothes.

The actors do fine in their sit-com roles, but Thurman stands out as a feminist manquée. And director Pam MacKinnon hits all the buttons. But it's still sit-com.


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