An American Daughter
Reviewed by David Kashimba

The Ross Valley Players have made a valiant effort to bring drama to a play written by Wendy Wasserstein. An American Daughter is a trite play that suffers from its efforts to capitalize on the controversial Clinton era. “My intention with An American Daughter was to create a fractured fairytale depicting both a social and political dilemma for contemporary professional women,” Wasserstein said. “In the end, this play is about the aspirations, sadness, defeats and accomplishments of ‘really smart people.’ That is, perhaps, it is about character.”

I believe that this was her highest hope for the play, but with the use of the word “perhaps” she shows that she really isn’t sure that she achieved her hope. The play is about a prominent woman doctor who is nominated for surgeon general, but because she disregarded a summons for jury duty, a “jurygate” scandal erupts clouding her nomination. The parallels to the real life nomination of Zoe Baird for attorney general and the “nannygate” scandal are obvious. The many trite jokes and unsubtle similes to Clinton era scandals are also obvious. Though there are times when Wasserstein comes close to achieving her highest goals, it is mainly due to good performances by Ross Valley Players’ actors who bring out more character than Wasserstein has put into her work.

The entire play can’t seem to decide if it’s a serious story about the downfall of contemporary feminists striving for political power or a Saturday Night Live show poking fun at all aspects of liberalism. The result is that neither angle works no matter how hard the cast tries. This unfortunate bad choice by a fine theatre company suffers even more by world events. With all the suffering people are going through as a result of recent terrorists attacks, An American Daughter seems even more trivial.

For tickets or more information about future productions call (415) 456-9555. Ross Valley’s next production, The Winslow Boy, will open Nov. 16.

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