“Hillary Clinton Got Me Pregnant”
8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays. 7 p.m. Sundays. Through Nov. 22. $18-$23. 7 Stages, Back Stage Theatre, 1105 Euclid Ave., Atlanta. 404-484-8636, www.synchrotheatre.com
By Wendell Brock
Former first lady gets Iowa writer pregnant.
Megan Gogerty — the playwright who once rankled the nerves of Atlanta protesters with a musical that appeared sympathetic to a child molester — has come back with a deliciously funny one-woman piece about her ongoing platonic relationship with Hillary Rodham Clinton.
With a title that teasingly riffs on the real-life tabloid scandals of Bill Clinton and the turkey-baster methods some women prefer, “Hillary Clinton Got Me Pregnant” is a smartly written, wonderfully performed half-true confessional by a young mother who measures her own emotional growth against the fateful twists and turns of recent American politics.
Gogerty, author of Actor’s Express’ controversial 2006 musical “Love Jerry,” has a lovable, self-effacing personality and a corona of blonde tresses that makes her a kind of Botticelli of the corn fields. Iowa-born, Texas-educated and Los Angeles-weary during part of the time she was incubating “Hillary,” the delightfully perky entertainer traces her liberal roots back to her JFK-worshipping mom but says her political hot wire didn’t get tripped until 9/11.
Directed by Ron Clark and produced by Synchronicity Performance Group, the play opens with Gogerty’s account of her flustered introduction to Hillary at a 2003 book signing in Austin and chronicles the bubble-bursting 2004 defeat of John Kerry. The writer/performer says she could forgive many of Dubya’s mistakes, but not Katrina. Deftly weaving her own journey with her political observations, Gogerty wraps her insecurities around pet jokes, Hollywood anecdotes and one invisible cabbage. She falls in love with a chinchilla but ends up with a purple fish, whose flipper-y demise turns into a Lucille Ball-worthy sketch.
With the analytical prowess of Sigmund Freud and the satirical bite of David Sedaris, this feminine feminist is by turns poignant and funny, aligning her fear of motherhood with certain unhappy childhood memories and finally giving birth to a 10 ½-pound boy that she refers to as “Whopper.”
Not that every detail is perfect. At two hours (including intermission), the show feels a little long and rambling, and I’m not sure the Hillary obsession is ever fully resolved. Oddly, Gogerty never explains how her child was fathered.
But she is a superb comedic artist, and one who is not afraid to expose her misty-eyed vulnerability. Dressed in a ridiculous Christmas outfit for a job handing out coupons, sitting in a toilet stall next to Carol Burnett, trying to retrieve her pet fish from the garbage disposal, reasoning that her newborn doesn’t have the mental skills to recognize her as his mother: Gogerty puts herself to the test of responsibility and self-awareness, acknowledging the little hurtful truths along the way, ultimately choosing the answers she can live with. Funnily enough, that doesn’t always mean Hillary.