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Ordinary "Nation"

And you just thought big political drama was grinding to a close this week.  Though the Obama-Clinton primary duke-out is apparently over, another exploration of politics -- and, more significantly, ethics -- is going on at Florida Stage through June 15.

Allison_nation_2  I was in New York when Carter W. Lewis' Ordinary Nation opened in early May, but I caught up with its southeastern premiere recently.  I found it, like too much rhetoric in this looooong campaign, flawed and sometimes outright annoying.

Here's the gist of the play. Economics prof Nation Jones (Joe Kimble) is to ignore the obvious, which is that his wife Allison (Annie Fitzpatrick) has left him for her rah-rah conservative boss, Mayor Gibb Ashton (Peter Thomasson).  Grandpa (Dan Leonard) is running a less-than-profitable book-making operation out of Nation's house.  Teen daughter Frankie (Emily Zimmer) is trying to help Gramps recoup his losses by skinning some bratty college boys -- including Gibb's son -- at poker.

Frankie_gj_nation Lewis raises the family's stakes by having Nation make a short-term investment in a local company that is about to get a huge contract, with the insider tip coming from Gibb via Allison.  There are morals and ethics involved, though such things are in short supply in the world of the happy new couple.  Mama has to decide whether to protect her new beau or give up custody of her poker ace kid.  After much boo-hooing -- none of it believable -- she sashays off to the victory party for the newly elected Senator Gibb Ashton.

I see why director Louis Tyrrell chose Ordinary Nation. The plays that appeal to Florida Stage's founder and artistic director are brimming with ideas, issues, resonant situations.  And the cast certainly conveys this comic drama's situational ethics.  Sure, Ordinary Nation makes you think.  But what I thought was, "This is flawed and sometimes outright annoying."

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