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Thursday, July 11, 2024

‘N/A’ Review: For Nancy Pelosi and A.O.C., It’s a House Divided

US‘N/A’ Review: For Nancy Pelosi and A.O.C., It’s a House Divided


By then, N has been in Congress for 31 years. Having lost the House speakership when “that man” was elected, she intends to reclaim it. Her favorite number — the only one that counts for a parliamentarian — is 218, the number of votes needed to get work done. Anything shy of that is zero.

So even though she and A find that they agree on many policy goals, especially ending the inhumane treatment of migrants at the southern border, they are irreconcilably opposed about how to achieve them. N wheedles, calls in chits, holds her nose and plays footsie with lobbyists, and if she doesn’t have the votes to pass a bill, she doesn’t waste her political capital trying. Naturally, A wants to blow that all up.

But the conflict that Correa means to foreground as political keeps falling out of its frame. At their first meeting, N, stung by A’s win and her anti-establishment rhetoric, interviews her as if for a job, always backfooting her. The younger woman, she argues, is naïve, more interested in “holy pictures” — meaningless poses of goodness — than in the dirty work of actual change. A, at first delicately but over the months with more and more steel, claps back with lectures on the moral sclerosis of incumbency, the corruption of the favor economy.

“It’s the job of our leaders to lead,” she thunders.

“Not over the cliff, it isn’t,” N answers.

However policy-oriented the relationship was in Washington, onstage it becomes personal despite the playwright’s intentions. And happily so, because plays, performed by real people, can’t help but be personal too. In any case, Correa is unable to keep the back-and-forth political debate from falling into a rut. As N says, in aphoristic mode, “The end of every fight is the beginning of the next.”

That ouroboros gets tiring fast, or would, had the actors not long since taken over the play’s agenda. They are, after all, soul-barers, not wonks, and since few of us really know what these women are like beyond their social media images, the fire of imagination is called for.



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