Colin Quinn's laugh-packed Civics 101

Colin Quinn in Unconstitutional: copyright 2013
Colin Quinn in Unconstitutional: copyright 2013
Posted: June 18, 2014

How does the Kardashians' excluding Bruce Jenner from their product lines relate to the Constitution's commerce clause? Why are lifetime-appointed Supreme Court justices like DJs at a strip club? In what way do Bruce Springsteen concerts resemble the short shrift given to the workingman by Congress?

Colin Quinn's Unconstitutional has the answers. His smart, hilarious romp through U.S. history, presented by Philadelphia Theatre Company at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, takes an absurdist approach to the divisive intolerance for differing opinions that separates red states from blue, immigration-reformists from the closed-borders crowd, and gun-control types from NRA partisans.

In his beleaguered-Everyman style, Quinn starts with the Constitution: four pages scribbled on a cocktail napkin in 1787. From here, he traces an arc that unites the Founding Fathers as a bunch of drunks ringing up excessive bar tabs in Philadelphia (an overhead projection shows a receipt from one of their outings) to the current partisan bickering in Congress. He blames the Internet for the stalemate: Before Google no one really knew how anyone else lived in the rest of the country.

There's no gridlock on laughter during this one-man show. Quinn's manic, ambling style easily engages. He shakes his hands with barely controlled exasperation (really, the way he puts it, America would frustrate anyone with an ounce of common sense). His monologue rambles, seemingly logically, from freedom of religion to a five-minute aside on race relations, political correctness, and the suggestion that we put guard towers on school property.

Quinn's quick, energetic approach always brings things back to the founding document responsible for causing current chaos. His clear knowledge of the Constitution suggests respect, as his wit points out the places in the Articles that have led us into one national and international mess after another.

Just knowing that a comic can still relate hotly contested legal and judicial issues to the petty concerns of the Internet and reality TV suggests hope - if not enough to save a sinking ship, then at least enough to keep us laughing as it capsizes.


THEATER REVIEW

Unconstitutional

Presented by the Philadelphia Theatre Company through July 6 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad St.

Tickets: $49. Information: 215-985-0420 or www.philadelphiatheatrecompany.org

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