In “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” the seventh president of the United States (actor Will Haden), is an angry, self-loathing, mascara-wearing sad sack with really tight pants and genocidal tendencies. He spends most of his time complaining loudly about the Indians and Republicans and waving a pistol around with daft flamboyance when the Supreme Court won’t deliver him pizza.
The Village Repertory Company, performing at the recently renovated Wolfe Street Playhouse, brings an almost fun DIY-aesthetic to the sprawling chaos of Michael Friendman and Alex Timbers’ 2009 Off-Broadway experiment; with an impressive array of brown (who knew there were so many shades?) meant to stand in for a 19th-century tavern, Andrew Jackson’s home, the White House and Tennessee.
The scenery is appropriately ascetic and sparse, as dead and devoid of color as Jackson is grandiose and vibrant. Haden stomps around with gangly limbs wrapped in groin-strangling black denim, chewing scenery by the mouthful. The supporting cast members all wear a multitude of hats and play a multitude of roles, though costume changes are wisely eschewed. (A Native American may look like John Quincy Adams sporting a headdress, which adds to the high-school-production-on-speed feel, in a good way.)
But the quirks of “Bloody Bloody” are quickly unveiled as gimmicks and the bombast and dishevelment soon delve into indulgence; everyone’s always yelling and overacting, every performance channels Adam Sandler circa 1995, and every joke revolves around repeated use of bad words. Director Josh Wilhoit’s directions may have simply been “Enter stage left, yell, stomp, exit stage left.”
The vocals drown in the static screech of sordid guitars. This being a rock opera, distortion and discord are to be expected, and arguably to be demanded, and the band — Corey Webb, Ben Jacobs, Adam Parrott, Casey Atwater, all decked out like an unnamed gang from “Grease” — rocks pretty well. Their shimmering harmonies are almost too pretty for such a filthy musical, but the juxtaposition works.
All of the rocking comes at the cost of aural clarity, however. The audience is denied the pleasure of hearing such articulate lines as “Would you like to see my stimulus package?” and other innuendo too dirty for the pages of a daily newspaper.
You may expect Teddy Roosevelt to pop up in a cameo because the production feels like it’s beating you with a big stick.
Greg Cwik is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University.