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Kathleen Turner delightfully dominates Arena Stage, convincingly channeling legendary journalist Molly Ivins (1944 – 2007), the larger-than-life liberal Texan who shattered glass ceilings one after the other as a pioneering female journalist in the very male news world of the 1970s – 1980s.

Margaret and Allison Engels’ script is peppery and raucous, Turner vividly delivering Ivins’ bitingly spot-on-wit with mastery and aplomb. Headstrong and brazen, yet far from an acrimonious ball-buster, she becomes even more winsomely nuanced through Turner’s subtle navigation of Ivins’ poignant introspections, delicately revealing very real, yet well-managed, vulnerabilities.

Turner essentially delivers a one-woman show, punctuated by a few quick wordless entrances and exits from Nicholas Yenson, wryly playing the newsroom helper. Engels’ script frames the life and career experience of Ivins through a series of interrelated stories told as personal musings, emerging one-by-one as Ivin attempts to write her father’s obituary. The obit writing process provides Ivins a perfect opportunity for self-reflection, Turner addressing the audience with a rollicking internal monologue gone external. One can also imagine her dishing to a green journalist eager to understand her place in a complexly structured and seldom transparent career, Ivins’ lively recollections covering a myriad of subjects such as workplace sexual harassment and alcoholism, the authentic personalities of presidents and politicians, and the woes of her articles being “neutered” by editors.

The staging of Red Hot Patriot is simple and elegant, allowing the strength of Turner’s ebullient storytelling to shine through. Tastefully projected historic photos underscore many details of Ivins’ life, further intimating Turner with Ivins through both attitude and appearance.

A highly entertaining romp, Red Hot Patriot delightfully delivers Ivins’ voice as an embedded journalist, not as expert witness to an embattled war zone, but to the similarly chaotic and unpredictable world of “The News.” Turner is Ivins, embodying the unique and important perspective of the liberal female journalist from Texas who wouldn’t take “no” or “later” for an answer.

Red Hot Patriot runs at the Arena Stage from August 23 – October 28, with tickets ranging from $46 – 94, with oportunities for student discounts, SW DC Nights, Pay-Your-Age tickets, HOTTIX and Hero’s Discounts. Additionally, Arena Stage will offer multiple special events and talks associated with the play. Visit the following website for more info on ticket purchasing and available discounts.

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