A Stellar POTUS At Geffen — Review

Los Angeles

Shannon Cochran, Lauren Blumenfeld and Alexandra Billings | Photo: Jeff Lorch

Alan Koolik
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February 1, 2024 5:27 PM

“Behind every great man is a greater woman,” so the age-old saying goes. Playwright Selina Fillinger subverts that and magnifies it seven-fold in her comedy POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive, receiving its Los Angeles premiere at the Geffen Playhouse through February 25.

POTUS, which first opened on Broadway nearly two years ago, takes place entirely within the confines of a chaotic White House—the man and party in power are left to the viewer to decide. Surrounding the mostly unseen and entirely unheard-from president are seven women, some of whom are keeping the country running, and others throwing a wrench in their day. What ensues is a hilarious series of high jinks that cements this play’s legacy squarely in the canon of classic farce.

Ito Aghayere and Alexandra Billings | Photo: Jeff Lorch

The play is, first and foremost, anchored by its stellar cast, which is at once uniformly excellent and comprised of seven standout actors. They are Ito Aghayere (Chris, a White House reporter), Alexandra Billings (Margaret, the First Lady), Lauren Blumenfeld (Stephanie, the President’s secretary), Shannon Cochran (Harriet, the Chief of Staff), Celeste Den (Jean, the Press Secretary), Jane Levy (Dusty, the President’s mistress), and Deirdre Lovejoy (Bernadette, the President’s sister). This cohesive team is what makes the text shine, and each actor is able to make the audience roar with merely a glance.

Paramount in pulling off a successful farce is a director who not only understands the humor of the play, but the humanity beneath the comedy. Here, Jennifer Chambers succeeds in eliciting genuine emotion from the cast and helming a play that is more than just funny.

Deirdre Lovejoy and Ito Aghayere | Photo: Jeff Lorch

The ever-shifting set was done by Brett J. Banakis. Its modularity was key to placing the action all over the White House, and contained more than enough doors for the sequence in the second act that is de rigueur for physical comedy. A nice touch was that all of the stagehands were women—a notable divergence from the typically male-heavy crews one sees on the stage—showing that behind every great play are several women trying to keep it running.

Bawdy, brazen, and hilariously vulgar, POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive is sure to be a highlight of Los Angeles’s theatre season, and should not be missed.

POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive is playing at the Geffen Playhouse through February 25.

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Alan Koolik

Alan is currently a student at UCLA School of Law. Prior to this, he was an analyst for Jujamcyn Theaters and an off-Broadway producer. While an undergraduate at Columbia University, he was on staff for the student newspaper, the Spectator.

Los Angeles
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