Theatre Review: The Miss Education of Jenna Bush

Liberals may be disappointed to learn that The Miss Education of Jenna Bush, Melissa Rauch’s send-up of the hard-partying First Daughter is ultimately quite forgiving of and sympathetic to its inspiration.  The show, which Rauch (a regular fixture on VH1’S Best Week Ever co-wrote with boyfriend Winston Beigel to appear at this year’s Fringe Festival, crafts a fictional evening with Bush on the eve of her first day as an inner-city teacher in Washington, D.C., with a stream-of-consciousness narrative flow that would have fared better in a shorter television sketch than an hour-and-a-half long one-act.
Rauch hits some obvious notes: Jenna, hung over, fails to remember her address when ordering Chinese food.  She also provides her spin on details like her whereabouts on September 11, why she stuck her tongue out at the press and how she ended up kissing Mary Cheney.  And Rauch draws some clear parallels to her father.  She abuses the English language (including phrases like “accountabilistic”) and is quite competitive with, perhaps even resentful of, her more successful sibling.  But deep down, Jenna just craves her father’s approval.

And that is a tad to deep for mere parody.  Education only works when poking superficial fun at its subject.  Rauch, with her boisterous sorority girl attitude and unwavering Texan accent, is an unquestionable delight.  The success of this play lies entirely in performance, for its writing lacks structure – there is no thematic arc to this subversive comedy routine.  It could, in this sense, run twice as long or half as short, and say the same thing, no more, no less.

But as a star vehicle, Education does pass muster, and is a great showcase for Rauch’s talents.  It would be interesting to see what she can do with a character with real layers one day.

Further details on the official site.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America, with more than 200 companies from all over the world performing for 16 days in more than 20 venues – that’s a total of more than 1300 performances. It is in its nith year, and lasts from Aug. 12th to 28th.

Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.