Capital Fringe Review: ‘Carry a Big Stick’ by Erica Laxson

Carry a Big Stick produced by Bull Moose Theatre and written by playwright Paul Handy is a true political storytelling adventure. Delving into the politics of creating the Panama Canal, Director Catherine Aselford has crafted Handy’s script into a living history lesson. Though the subject matter is from over 100 years ago, you can’t help but notice the parallels to today’s inhospitable political climate in Washington. It’s an educational piece that will delight history and politics lovers, but it’s not for those with a short attention span.


Theodore Roosevelt (John McCaffrey) must debate, connive, and convince fellow public servants to agree to his plan to build the Panama canal. A respectable imitation of Teddy, but jumbled and forgotten lines took away from the effect. Mark Hanna (David A. Schmidt), John Tyler Morgan (Terence Aselford), and William Nelson Cromwell (Robert Mark O’Brien) are the perfect political foils for McCaffrey’s rough and ready delivery. Battling verbally and through policy, all four men deliver an enthralling look at politics at the turn of the century.

Phillippe Bunau-Varilla (Tucker Bacon) attempted an authentic French accent, but it was often impossible to decipher what he was saying, though he did pull off the slick character in other ways. John Hay (Phillip Baedecker) is the estimable support for McCaffrey’s Roosevelt and presented a trustworthy aide to his cause. Carlos Martinez Silva (Terence Aselford) rounded out the cast with an impressive South American accent and the greedy sensibilities of a foreign politician. Costumes by Sandy Eggleston gave the minimalistic show the perfect touch of the period and were delightfully suited to each character.

Running Time: 90 minutes.

Carry a Big Stick plays through July 27, 2013 at Warehouse – 645 New York Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC. For performance information and to purchase tickets, go to their Capital Fringe page.

2013 Capital Fringe Show Preview: ‘Carry a Big Stick’ by Catherine Aselford
2013 Capital Fringe Show Preview: ‘Carry a Big Stick’ and Interview with Catherine Aselford by Cate Brewer


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