Those of us who voted for John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1960 were fortunate enough to experience the exhilaration, the hope, and the joyful anticipation that his election brought to the nation.
We watched with pride as this charismatic young man and his ethereally beautiful wife charmed the rest of the world as well.
We thrilled to his plans to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
And we spent our holidays in Hyannis Port and on Martha’s Vineyard, vicariously, with our extended family, the Kennedy clan.
We also experienced the aftermath of his assassination three years later, as the nation plunged into despair, depression, and grief.
The cruel death of this man was the beginning of our national decline in civility, in dignity, in respect, in honesty and integrity. We very quickly became a nation steeped in self-aggrandizement: the “me generation” and “I’m alright Jack (and to hell with you.)”
We mourn our loss to this day.
So, for me at least, the new play “The Magic Bullet Theory" by Terry Tocantins and Alex Zola and presented by the Sacred Fools Theatre Company, is not the satire that it purports to be. It is a travesty.
It builds its “comedy” around the plethora of conspiracy theories that floated around after the assassination. It incorporates two Mafia hit men, two secret agents shooting from the grassy knoll, a black Arlen Specter, a falling-down-drunk Dorothy Kilgallen, a boorish Jack Ruby, an idiotic Lee Harvey Oswald, and the “actual” shooter, a man named Harrelson, the father of Woody.
To say nothing of the “magic bullet” that shot through Kennedy and Connally in a vicious circle and came out clean.
And there’s Jackie Kennedy in her pink pillbox hat and her blood-drenched suit, parading around tastelessly, singing (badly) and making sexual advances to the men.
The real perpetrator of the plot, it is implied, is “The Texan,” a tall man in a massive cowboy hat who drawls out impatient expletives with every other sentence. Wonder who that could be?
The assassination and many other killings take place on stage, but the real horror comes near the end, when an actual death photograph of Kennedy, showing his exploded head and brain, is exhibited to the audience. It’s a photo that was withheld from the public at the time — and rightly so. To display it now is gratuitously hateful, disrespectful, and horrifying.
To make a play out of the Kennedy assassination — and a pseudo-comedy, at that — may be amusing to those born after 1963. But to the rest of us it will always be too soon.
Cynthia Citron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.