Friday, March 1, 2019

Review: The Many Hauxs of the White House

By Michael Block 

Throughout the history of time, the true backbone of the American presidency is the First Lady. And we’ve had some iconic ladies filling that position. Offering her unique viewpoint on history and drag, Heidi Haux has compiled a “best of” list of First Ladies sharing their story in First Haux, which made its debut at The Duplex.
photo by Michael Block
Using Melania Trump as a framing device, Melania seeks help from First Ladies of the past to help her through her newfound title. Unlike a Dickensian drama, not all of these “ghosts” have wise words to spare. From Martha Washington to Jackie Kennedy to the Bushes, the array of women offer a slice of their journey that played an impact to their moment in history. Playing into intelligent storytelling through each wifes' music and sound clip selections, Heidi takes pop culture and history and marries them into a subversive theatrical evening. There’s a fairly formulaic structure to keep this solo cabaret moving. Heidi goes from wife to wife with a number and a costume change, accompanied by an oft comedic history lesson. She has room to play with order and stray away from a mostly complete chronological timeline. At the end of the day, tone is key and insuring the balance of the hilarious moments between the dramatic bits heightens the arc of the piece. With Jackie O, Hilary, and the Bushes coming so close together, the latter half of the night becomes heavy-handed. That being said, Heidi, a campy queen at heart, delivers some extraordinarily winning heartbreaking moments. See Jackie O. Move over Natalie Portman, Heidi Haux has taken your gig. As she continues to develop this powerful piece, there is an opportunity to dive deeper into characterization and voices on mic. Distinguishing from Heidi neutral and individual First Lady assists with storytelling.
First Haux goes beyond a solo cabaret. This is a work of theater. First Haux deserves a larger stage. Heidi Haux has managed to entertain while educating through the art of drag.