2012 Edmonton Village of the Fringed Fringe review: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

There's a hilarious webseries that tells the story of famous movies using bunnies. Here's them doing Star Wars: A New Hope. Well if you go to see Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at the Fringe festival this year, you get to see the tale of America's 7th President. Based on the off-Broadway rock musical of the same name, this tale is entirely told by...



...emo kids.

This ends up being a show where the women are the ones with the smallest amount of makeup. The story shows Andrew Jackson's rise to power, and how his desire to wipe out the Spanish/British/Indians/Americans/AnyoneNotNamedAndrewJackson led him to become a general, win Florida for the Union, gain political support and the finally be elected President.

There's a lot of good stuff building up to the ascension to the Presidency: Jackson finds love and basically kills everybody else (including the crippled East Indian girl providing the narration) in order to do what he thinks is correct. He founds the Democratic Party (in one of the hilarious historical whoopsies, they reference having to fight against the Republican Party, which is funny since that party never existed during Jackson's lifetime) and rides a wave to Washington, where he's defeated under the bizarre political machinations that lead to President John Quincy Adams (who, along with Clay, van Buren, and Monroe are all portayed as fairies. And no, Slevin Klebstra, not the kind with wings).

Jackson's back in 1828 though, but his wife dies due to the agony of her husband's vetting process in the U.S. Senate (that's just how things worked back then, the play helpfully explains). As President, he tries and fails his hand at direct democracy, dealing with the National Banks, and solving the Indian Question.

The play is an odd mix: it celebrates Andrew Jackson but isn't able to accept his opinions on slavery or Indians or war, and so it tries to poo-poo it behind the scenes while having adulation for the rock star President. As the Presidency goes on, it suddenly stops, seemingly unable to let the full consequences both positive and negative be felt from his forcible removal of Indians to Okalahoma! So instead of deal with them, and force a modern audience to choose between revering this figure or reviling him, it instead chose to end. Kind of sudden, really, but after 90 minutes in the stifling hot confines of the Catalyst Theatre I really was just happy it was over. Andrew Jackson could have died flying back to his home planet on a rocket ship and I would have accepted this ending.

The performances were all solid. I'm not sure if the four conspirators of the 1824 election were all sodomites in the original show, but that was a pretty outlandish way of handling their characters here: especially for the sensitive sensitivities of a Fringe audience. The cast were all good enough at singing, they kept their physical actions up in the horrible stifling environment, and even the little kid delivered all his lines without flubs or over-hamming it...which in a show like this could push everybody right over the shark.

Final word: If its not the first part of a series of "emo kids talk 'bout U.S. history and stuff", Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson deserves your attendance if you remember to hydrate first.