Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Hillary and Clinton
The Vortex Theatre
Review by Carole C. Sullivan

Also see Carole's review of Witch

Ed Chavez and Bridget S. Dunne
Photo by Broken Chain Photography
It is a time-honored tradition of the theatre to explore the lives of famous and infamous people. From the Macbeths plotting the murder of their rival to Queen Elizabeth II driving her Range Rover over the streams of Balmoral, everyone loves a look behind the scenes. Playwright Lucas Hnath began exploring the Clintons in the first version of his play Hillary and Clinton in 2008. The Vortex Theatre is presenting a production of the final 2019 script that was presented on Broadway.

Alternate universes are very popular recently, and the playwright has used this affectation to set Hillary and Clinton in another universe. This is not an imitation of real life and it is not a parody with wigs and make-up but the essence of what is in the script. The characters are played as written, not the real people as we know or imagine them to be.

The play opens in a hotel room in an alternate presidential primary in an alternate New Hampshire where alternate Hillary is worrying about losing to alternate Barack Obama. It is a lot to suspend this much belief. This new look at these very over-exposed people unfortunately does not bring anything new to our perceptions of them.

The production, however, is well cast and well directed and is entertaining. Bridget S. Dunne is a fine actor and brings humor and pathos to their portrayal of alternate Hillary Clinton. Dunne is dressed in clothing that is baggy and unkempt and surely not representative of any political candidate anywhere in any universe. This level of casual is off-putting. There must be some middle ground where we could believe that this person is running for national office.

Mark Hisler as Clinton is also dressed in workout clothes and jeans but brings a certain sense that he enjoys dressing down. The old crafty political animal is there under the short shorts. His scenes with Dunne are full of a sense that Clinton still cares for his wife. Hisler's portrayal has nuance and a bit of slapstick fun.

Marcus Ivey does not try to imitate Barack Obama, but he captures the essence of a cocky new guy in town who is upsetting the status quo. He is already dressed as the president. Ed Chavez as Mark captures the essence of the political campaign manager well. He is driven to accomplish his goals but has just a touch of a used car salesman in his character. All of these actors are recognized in Albuquerque as accomplished and bring satisfying performances.

Most design aspects of the production are minimal and work well. However, lighting designer Ray Rey Griego has taken the alternate universe location very seriously and designed a beautiful gobo-created universe surrounding the realistic box set of the hotel room. This is visually stunning. Ray Rey is making a name for himself for lighting design in Albuquerque.

Congratulations to director Susan Erickson for helming this first-rate production.

Hillary and Clinton runs through April 28, 2024 at the Vortex Theatre, 2900 Carlisle Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 pm. General Admission, $24 ATG, Student and Union $$19 & $12. For tickets and information visit or call 505 247-8600.

Directed by Susan Erickson, Set Design: Mary Rossman, Costume Design: Louisa O'Neil. Cast: Bridget S. Dunne, Ed Chavez, Mark Hisler, Marcus Ivey. Understudy Cast: Mary-Ellin Brooks, Brett Becker, Joel Daniel Miller, Dachary Vann.