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‘November’ review: Politicians and turkeys in David Mamet comedy

Andrew Botsford works behind the desk, playing the

Andrew Botsford works behind the desk, playing the president, and is helped out by Matthew Conlon, his able chief of staff, in David Mamet's "November" at the Hampton Theatre Company in Quogue. Photo Credit: Tom Kochie

WHAT “November”

WHEN | WHERE Through Nov. 6. Upcoming: 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Hampton Theatre Company at Quogue Community Hall, 125 Jessup Ave.

INFO $30, $25 for those 65 or older, $15 for those younger than 35, $10 for students younger than 21; 866-811-4111,

The month of November brings to mind two great American traditions: Thanksgiving and — especially in years divisible by four — elections. Leave it to David Mamet to invent characters who desecrate both.

“November,” making its Long Island premiere with rapid-fire political incorrectness, is a pie-in-the-face short of circus-clown farce. What’s new, you ask, given the current state of uncivil civic events? But when you drag Thanksgiving into the mud, too, well, now we’re talking turkey. Perhaps the calendar explains why “November,” then starring adorably glib Nathan Lane, flopped on Broadway in 2008, the election year that ushered in the Obama presidency. Opening in January, “November” barely made it past the Fourth of July. Premiering on the evening after the final presidential debate, the Hampton Theatre Company’s production benefits from better timing.

Taking full comic advantage is Andrew Botsford as the hapless, foul-mouthed clown who resides in set designer Sean Marbury’s circus-ring Oval Office. Matthew Conlon heads a finely tuned supporting cast assembled and crisply directed by Diana Marbury. With deadpan and, at times, heroic straight face, Conlon reminds Botsford’s blithely oblivious President Charles Smith why he can’t build a fence to keep illegal immigrants out. “You need the illegals to build the fence.”

“It’s always something,” Botsford as commander-in-chief concedes.

Any similarities to the 2016 campaign are purely prescient as George W. Bush was entering the final year of his second term when “November” debuted. Smith is a week out from the election that polls insist will make him a one-term president. Obsessed about “legacy,” he wants a library, or perhaps a last-minute ad buy that will rescue him. An opportune visit by the turkey lobbyist (a solicitous Matthew O’Connor), for the annual gobble-gobble pardon, gives the president an uncharacteristically brilliant shakedown idea. There’s a war going on — Smith can’t remember whether it’s with Iran or Iraq — but the president is so obsessed with his kickback scheme that he keeps Israel waiting on the red hotline.

The conscience of the Smith administration is a lesbian speechwriter (an earnest Rebecca Edana), who agrees to abet her boss’ pay-to-play gambit if he’ll marry her to her partner despite its illegality (except in Massachusetts) in 2008. Rob Byrnes as an aggrieved Indian nation chief sets off the killer finale. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud, however incorrect it all seems. Remember, it’s only a play.


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