Just as it helps to have read Harry Potter before you go and see the movie, it helps to hate George Bush before you see this live taping of Blume’s frantic one woman show ‘The Accidental Activist’. You don’t have to hate Bush, but it makes the movie so much more enjoyable, afterwards you can talk to your friends about it over a soy latte. But if the words ‘one woman show’ cause your tighty-whities to shrink four sizes relax, Blume’s performance is self deprecating and funny.
In March 2003 Kathryn Blume staged ‘The Lysistrata Project’, combining protest and theatre, she staged a reading of the Aristophanes’ anti-war sex farce ‘Lysistrata’ around the world to protest the U.S. involvement in Iraq. The event garnered media attention, celebrity involvement and raised money for aid relief. But when the project ended, the United States went to war and Kathryn was back being an out of work actress. From this failure ‘The Accidental Activist’ is born.
Blume monologues about her life leading up the Lysistrata project and the anger and guilt that she feels about the war. Her anecdotes are peppered with characterizations of the women who have inspired her. What comes forward from her frenetic, energetic performance is the story of how art and passion intersect. In the aftermath she remains an optimistic, sprightly hippy despite the war and fellow actors who use the publicity for themselves while Blume remains out of work.
Shot on video, the show captures Blume’s rapid delivery and easy repartee with the audience, making use of multiple cameras and some interesting editing choices. I couldn’t help but wonder if some of the segments would be better served with a full, on location production, but the success of the production rests entirely in Blume’s excellent performance.
Blume describes herself as a classic intellectual, Jewish, FBI file, liberal and the show is inherently political. It conveys the politics with the subtlety of a two by four to the head, but I think what makes it work is Bloom’s ability to mix humor, pathos, politics and life. I’m a cynical, misanthropic, white guy, while I might not agree with her politics Blume presents for us the full, humane perspective of her life. That’s what art should do, whether you are making a violent Jesus movie, taking photos of yourself with a bullwhip in your naughty spot or performing a one woman show to stop a war.