Abraham Lincoln’s Big, Gay Dance Party (Review)

Know production is passionately conceived but a little zany

It’s hard to know where to begin commenting on Know Theatre’s holiday offering, Abraham Lincoln’s Big, Gay Dance Party, a zany and generally incoherent but passionately conceived piece of theater. Don’t go thinking it has anything to do with the holidays, and despite the fact that some fourth-graders light its political fuse when their teacher replaces a holiday pageant with a script that references a possible gay relationship involving the 16th president, this is not a show for kids. Who is it for? I’m not really sure, although some at the opening performance found it hilarious.

It doesn’t really matter where you begin: The show has three acts; an audience member randomly chooses their order. Each offers a different perspective on the legal fallout from reaction to the kids’ play — two aspiring Republican politicians (Robert Pavlovich plays a veteran district attorney, while Torie Wiggins is an ambitious African-American attorney) and a gay journalist (Jason Podplesky) with vengeance in mind. The order I saw made modest sense; if rearranged, I’m not sure how it would work — if that matters.

There’s a lot of liberal good-heartedness at play, as well as plenty of conservative bashing for anyone concerned with the “radical gay agenda.” Much of the tale is performed at Know by capable actors who make some scenes almost moving and others quite funny — including a set of easily identified musical theater dance breaks done by actors wearing Lincoln beards and stovepipe hats as well as a courtroom sequence that keeps breaking out in utter pandemonium. These items have little to do with the narrative, however, and the show bumps along too slowly (taking nearly three hours). I wearied of the repetitive silliness occasionally punctuated with solemnly delivered remarks that Lincoln actually made.

A “house divided against itself” indeed.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S BIG GAY DANCE PARTY , presented by Know Theatre, continues through Dec. 23. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here .

Rick Pender

RICK PENDER has written about theater for CityBeat since its first issues in 1994. Before that he wrote for EveryBody’s News. From 1998 to 2006 he was CityBeat’s arts & entertainment editor. Retired from a long career in public relations, he’s still a local arts fan, providing readers (and public radio listeners)...
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