Orange County Theatre Reviews

PHOTO COURTESY: Laguna Playhouse

PHOTO COURTESY: Laguna Playhouse

Written by Patrick Chavis 

Ed Asner. You may know of him from works such as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Roots.” If you’re a bit younger, you’ll know him from his voice in cartoons like “UP” and the hilarious character voice of Ed Wuncler in “The Boondocks.” Whatever age you are, Ed Asner has proven himself a great talent. His interpretation of FDR is comical (in a “*sigh* oh grandpa” sort of way), profound, and true to life, but I left more entertained and laughing at Asner’s unique quirks and less from his portrayal of our 32nd president.

Although I’m familiar with Ed Asner, I honestly can’t say he’s on my list of top actors I know about and appreciate. I was too young to get into his memorable role as Lou Grant from the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” and again as Lou Grant in the spin-off “Lou Grant.” Of course, I saw UP and loved the beginning. Who didn’t? That movie only needed the first ten minutes. So for me, the draw of this show wasn’t Asner. The appeal was getting to know a little bit more about “FDR,” a president with similar issues to our president in office. During the performance, we watch Asner hobble onstage and then roll around in a wheelchair talking to the audience as though they are the press, all the while using a very relaxed “Welcome to the White House” matter-of-fact tone. We watch Asner discuss famous speeches and his conversations with Winston Churchill. He gets very vocal about his battles with Republicans and the do-nothing Congress of the time. My favorite moment is after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Asner’s generally relaxed and joking tone begins to cease, and we are brought into the mind of an earnest, troubled man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. 

I constantly struggle to watch this play, viewing the transition from FDR to a comical Ed Asner, beloved by all. I came to see “FDR,” not Ed Asner, but I got both. The fact that it’s a one-person show and Asner is talking to many invisible people who aren’t actually in the room brings a new level of hilarity to this play, though I doubt that was their intention. 

Side note: History buffs and those in love with Ironic humor will enjoy this. For other great “FDR” stories, check out the PBS special by Ken Burns. It’s informative and entertaining.

 

7.5/10

Date & Location :

Nov 19th ~ 23rd

Laguna Playhouse  

606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651 

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