Review: ‘Electile Dysfunction’ at Act II Playhouse in Ambler, PA

Electile Dysfunction is a very funny show. Act II Playhouse is performing quite a community service, since the current election news ranges from ridiculous to terrifying. Laughter is certainly called for and three comedians and a pianist (Owen Robbins) have written and perform a revue to tremendous opening night response. The title refers to audience members who have trouble “getting excited” over the current candidates.

Tony Braithwaite (Donald Trump). Photo by Bill D'Agostino.
Tony Braithwaite (Donald Trump). Photo by Bill D’Agostino.

Director Tony Braithwaite, further illustrates his point with a witty video, taken right in front of Act II, featuring “man on the street” interviews with whomsoever was passing by. These people prove to be very “unsatisfied” with the current candidates, and it’s surprising to see how many Amblerites find Trump the better alternative.

Unlike most of the late night comics, Tony Braithwaite, Tracie Higgins, and Will Dennis do not have a specific point of view. They proudly proclaim to be “equal opportunity offenders.” Tracie’s Hillary takes acting lessons to improve her speaking style, while Donald Trump, (Tony in an elaborate wig) runs for the office of Mayor of Ambler. This Trump skewers local personalities and places exactly as the presidential candidate does.

There is a newscast pulled from today’s Inquirer, which will change nightly, as well as an improvisation involving an audience member, randomly abducted from the crowd, who, fortunately last night, was a good sport. The major highlight is a press conference about today’s political situation with former presidents, (Bush, Reagan, Clinton etc) and other political figures (Palin, McCain) taking questions from reporters. A memorable Will Dennis. Tony Briathwaite scores spectacularly, as he changes personalities and physicalities with lighting speed. Even Andrew Jackson offers opinions about the coming election. He does a good Andrew Jackson.

The three performers are so comically adept than even if a joke doesn’t receive the expected reaction, one suspects that the performance will tighten and improve with each performance. The simple red-white-and-blue setting is by Adam Riggar, with the spot-on lighting by Andy Shaw.

Tracie Higgins, Tony Braithwaite, and Will Dennis. Photo by Bill D'Agostino.
Tracie Higgins, Tony Braithwaite, and Will Dennis. Photo by Bill D’Agostino.

It is forbidden for critics to reveal favorite lines in a revue such as this, as it spoils the audience enjoyment if they’ve heard the joke. I’ll break that rule just once with this favorite quote, ably delivered by pianist Owen Robbins:

President Harry S. Truman: “My choice early in life, was either to be the piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth there’s hardly any difference.”

If you are experiencing Erectile Dysfunction, and having difficulty “getting excited,” laughter just might be the perfect prescription.

Running Time: 70 minutes, without an intermission.


Electile Dysfunction plays through October 9, 2016 at Act II Playhouse – 56 East Butler Avenue in Ambler, PA. For tickets call (215) 654-0200, or purchase them online.

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Neal Newman
Over the past 40 years, Neal Newman has directed extensively in classical, Shakespeare, modern theater, musicals, and opera. He trained as an actor at California State University, and trained in Shakespeare at ACT of San Francisco. He trained as a director at Carnegie Mellon, and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. He directed many Off-Broadway productions in New York, ran a summer stock company, and directed five seasons of Shakespeare in the Park in Philadelphia, and many opera and Gilbert & Sullivan productions. He was a New York Critic for Show Business Magazine for 7 years, and has written for many local papers and websites. He is co author of 'GOLDILOCKS AND THE DOWN HOME BEARS' presented at Steel River Playhouse, and will soon present a reading of the new musical 'LITTLE PRINCESS.'


  1. A spot on review!! At some moments in the show there is so much loud, hysterical laughter that I will be going back several times to catch what I missed and, of course, depending on the news of that day, hear their take on it. How incredibly fortunate we are to have Act 2 in our midst.


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