Step right up, ladies and gentlemen, to the Marvellous Mighty Menier for this grand revival of the unloved, the unkind …. Assassins! Walk through the terrifying fanged clown mouth and into the hall of frights … the cream skimmed from America’s murderous society, the land where the gun is king and the conspiracies run rich and thick. See the freakshow of death dealers! Witness the logic of a culture where people who think a death will improve the world inexorably become part of a chain of never ending violence! See the Master oF Ceremonies bravely supply himself for target practice, then join in the fun as the killers train their guns on you! You’ll clap from the sidelines as Squeaky Fromme (Carly Bawden) explains her devotion to Charlie Manson, then gets in a fight with John Hinkley (Harry Morrison) over who has a better relationship with their idol. You’ll flinch away from the gun John Wilkes Booth pulls on a friend, then cheer as he comes back to life – like the rest of the nutjobs populating this room. Failed crashed airplanes? Wanna be French ambassadors? The level of delusion is sky high, creating a magic that’s only broken by the hashed together po-Southern accent of Sara Jane Moore (Catherine Tate). It’s all just a warm up for … the grandest killer of all, the one who changed the course of American history, Mr Lee Harvey Oswald (Jamie Parker), whose sudden appearance in the final minutes of the show is the Last Great Reveal, the man about whom so much has been written but whose logic is still a mystery.
But wait! Don’t turn away! Don’t say no to the joyous dark sideshow just because it trivializes (or even laughs at) the deaths these people dealt to their victims! It’s such a very pretty circus, from the fine singing to the giant clown’s head and bumper car littering the stage and even to the shiny costumes. You’re looking at reality, folks, and you know damn well that you wanted to see ugly and you wanted to be a little scared. So now you’re complaining at me because it was actually offensive and maybe you were actually frightened? Well, all I can say people, is look in the mirror, ’cause there ain’t no sideshow less’n there are ticket buying folks saying they are willing to hand over their hard earned cash to see it. And you got in line, you bought your popcorn, you wanted to be there, so maybe if you’re feeling a little bit upset it’s actually because you just found out something about yourself, something about what you like, and maybe it’s a little bit nasty. But don’t try to get all high and mighty with me. I say you know what you came for and you damn well got your money’s worth. As for me, well, when I looked around and saw all of your pale and tremulous faces looking up a barrel at impending annihilation, I know I got mine.
(This review is for the first performance of this production, which took place on Friday, November 21st, 2014.)