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Red Hot Patriot

In a virtual one-woman show, Kathleen Turner fully embodies the ball-busting Texas political reporter Molly Ivins

Kathleen Turner | RED HOT PATRIOT Kathleen Turner
Image credit: Mark Garvin
RED HOT PATRIOT Kathleen Turner

A word to the wise: Do not miss Kathleen Turner when she's on the stage. Luckily, you can find her beneath the lights around the country rather frequently as of late. Turner’s most recent role — playing the ball-busting Texas political reporter Molly Ivins in Red Hot Patriot at L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse through Feb. 12 — is a particular treat. In a virtually one-woman show directed by David Esbjornson, the decorated actor fully embodies the late journalist, spouting off about everything from George W. Bush to how she famously crafted Elvis Presley’s obituary for the New York Times after the rock legend's unexpected death.

The set is sparse — just a desk and the Associated Press “machine” — but there truly isn’t room for much else considering the big, deep-voiced performance Turner offers. Red Hot Patriot is delightfully short, just under 75 minutes, but it isn’t always sweet. Sure, there are the laughs, most often when Ivins pokes fun of our 43rd president. But the script, by Margaret and Allison Engel, also touches on the sadness surrounding the death of Ivins' father and the breast cancer that ultimately claimed her life in 2007. And there’s outrage, too: Ivins was dedicated to combating political apathy, inspiring people to demand change. Turner certainly inspires, too — mostly by making you to care a whole heck of a lot about Molly Ivins. A–

(Tickets: geffenplayhouse.com or 310-208-2028)

Originally posted Jan 16, 2012