Nancy Pelosi is having her moment. From her literal clapback at President Trump to her dogged and confident management of the impeachment process, she has solidified her position in history as a groundbreaking political leader and feminist. The Adult in the Room, a Broadway Factor NYC world premiere penned by Bill McMahon and directed by Heather Arnson and Conor Bagley, fails to do such a storied career and complex personality justice.
Veteran stage and screen actress Orlagh Cassidy certainly has the chops to carry a one-woman show, and her plastic smiles and sly smirks are some of the only authentic glimpses this 75-minute production offers into Pelosi’s quirks and character. The show’s premise: Pelosi is holding an Instagram Live for a delegation from Running Start, a program that helps young women run for office. Be warned that there’s reading involved, as the participants’ questions aren’t verbalized, but appear on screens on both sides of the stage. Throughout the Q&A, Pelosi waxes poetic on her parents, her biography, and her political leanings. The telling feels very surface level and frustratingly boring, with little effort at self-analysis or introspection.
Pelosi describes herself as “the iron fist in the velvet glove,” but her fist doesn’t show itself until the final 15 minutes, when the plot shifts to the impeachment process. Perhaps the Speaker’s story could be better told with a larger cast—hints at her relationship to “The Squad” (Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley, and Tlaib) could be worth exploring, as could more backroom interaction with her favorite sparring partner, the president. v