Iraq War: The Musical | AspenTimes.com
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Iraq War: The Musical

Aspen Times writer

Dear Editor:

D’Oily Cartel Opera Company Presents …

The company’s most recent production involves American soldiers, and plain-clothed “other” agents of that country supporting the search of antagonist Ahmad Chalabi’s home. It is an astonishing piece of entertainment! The cast is superb!

We learn that Chalabi’s “intelligence” wing (stage right) has sold Uncle Sam some very poor data, leading to embarrassing moments for our protagonists, the Coalition, a funny group of misfits. The plot line – Chalabi disavows the haughty Coalition, while it busily sets about to put the screws to him – illustrates just how hilarious toppling governments can be.

Outside the theater, RPGs momentarily scattered the arriving audience, come to see an evening of Gilbert and Sullivan. But, once inside, it was all about the magic of theater. Anyway, the song and dance was hugely distracting.

The first act has a bedraggled Army in an uproariously funny role assisting the illegal “rummy-aging” of their one-time closest collaborator’s home. In the background looms June 30, a puzzling symbol, left unexplained. Nevertheless, on with the show.

A surprise twist comes in the second act, as we discover the Army is ostensibly looking for “killers, abductors and torturers.” Honest, I’m not kidding. The audience roared with laughter at the irony. Then we’re told that documents in Chalabi’s possession are relevant to the D’Oily-For-Food scandal subplot, which isn’t worked through completely. Still, laughter and applause frequently interrupted the players.

Although building democracy was the play’s theme, ’twas the “sometimes untidy” version that the wizard Rummy alluded to in a squinty soliloquy earlier in the play, shortly after the Baghdadians had looted their museum; a moment of messy vitality, performed well.

Nearly spinning out of control, the performance was saved by the mysterious Cheney playing multi-roles – the virtues self-interest, secrecy, dishonesty and duplicity. The audience loved him! To stage right, the Coalition was doin’ the shoulder-shrug, and sang “Huh?, Don’t Know” as a rag-tag chorus line danced, all to the tune of “What Was The Army Doin’ At Chalabi’s?” A rendition of “Imagine Us In Your Neighborhood” wasn’t performed due to pressing issues of plot control, but I read the lyrics later and it’s a wonderful piece.

In the final act, old Baghdad burns as gaily outfitted “nations,” symbolic of the disintegrated Greater Syria, dance. Worried tyrants eat dates and ride in Mercedes Benz, while outside, no amount of blood Ba’athism, scary Islamist chanting or public amputations is able to save the unlucky, but free people of Baghdad.

“It’s Damn Inconvenient That They Have All The Oil!” was one of the best numbers of the night. That, and, of course, “Stay The Course,” though you’ve probably heard that one on the radio by now.

As the farce concluded with a performance of “Sir, That’s Not Quagmire You’re Stepping In,” I couldn’t help but think of leaving early, before everyone else got the same idea.

George Mahaffey

Aspen


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