DC Theatre Scene: An American Daughter

 Slice Hicks, Lolita Marie, Kathleen Mason, Michael Innocenti (foreground) in American Daughter at Keegan Theatre (Photo: Cameron Whitman)

Slice Hicks, Lolita Marie, Kathleen Mason, Michael Innocenti (foreground). Photo: Cameron Whitman

A typical Mom is folding laundry, shouting tasks to kids upstairs and handling day-to-day issues on an ordinary day as An American Daughter opens.  Only when she listens to an interview on the radio and criticizes herself for an insignificant flub do we realize that she’s just been nominated by the President as the U.S. Surgeon General.  Welcome to Wendy Wasserstein’s incredible ruminations on the roles of gender politics that still resonate nearly twenty years after its opening. 

The life of Dr. Lyssa Dent Hughes, beautifully portrayed by Susan Marie Rhea, turns topsy turvy with the pronouncement.  The play shows how she handles the attention, the  onslaught of press, and how an innocent slip can flip the switch of public sentiment, all while handling the duties of being a wife, mom, and friend.

Entertaining and insightful, the play echos timeless sentiments that are part of the bedrock of the country, and that resonate particularly now in this politic city. As the program notes, “ The  playwright explored the deeper issue of the complex politics of independent American women living in a society that values traditional roles and expectations. “  Keegan recognized the opportunity and grabbed it in rearranging their production schedule to showcase this piece at such a crucial time in our history.  Dr. Lyssa Dent Hughes shows how we must have the strength to get up and keep going, no matter what battles are won or lost, despite the victories and defeats.  As a blood line descendent of the wife of Ulysses S. Grant, whose picture is prominently displayed, it’s wired in her DNA.  Wasserstein brings these traits to the forefront and Keegan gives us a fresh opportunity to remember, reflect, “rise and continue,”  a battle cry to get up and keep going.