Aphrodisiac takes us back to the turn of the Millennium, the time of the Clinton impeachment and the drama about Gary Condit. For those who have forgotten Condit, he was the Congressman from California accused of having an affair with a young intern, Chandra Levy, who subsequently disappeared, and whose dismembered body was found several years later in a park near Washington, D.C.
The play, which closely follows the facts of the incident, looks at the situation from the point of view of Condit’s adult children, in particular his daughter, who was the same age (24) as the intern during her encounter with the Congressman. Cleverly overlaying the roles of the congressman and the intern onto the personas of the brother and sister (who take turns play-acting their father’s past as a way of trying to make sense of his behavior), the play explores lust, attraction, power, politics, ethics and morality, but doesn’t dive too deeply into them. The play is given a postmodern edge by having the same two actors who play Condit and the intern play the roles of brother and sister. (At one stage, the male lead plays the brother playing the father playing in order, Willie Nelson, Keith Richards and Bill Clinton!)
The play is rescued by a daring monologue in the third-act by a “celebrity” interloper, who steals the show (in this humble reviewer’s opinion). While the play perhaps hews too closely to the facts of the case, it does serve as a reminder of how tainted and tawdry politics has become, and how easy it has become to laugh-off or just ignore the graphic sexual imagery associated with our politicians that newspapers and television sets regularly drop into our laps.
The play is well-acted, and the sets, though sparse, fit the ethos of the play well. The actors are required to give dramatic and extended monologues which they carry off with a flourish. All in all, an enjoyable experience. (Warning, the play has very graphic language as befits the topic).