The season opener at the Unicorn Theater is one of the most unusual, and unusually entertaining plays that I’ve seen in a long time. Who’s Your Baghdaddy: Or How I Started the Iraq War is a historical musical comedy about the corruption and incompetence of the United States government. In order to appreciate the play, some context is needed; the program helpfully contains the timeline of major events in the Bush/Iraq story leading to the declaration that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
Of course, everybody knows now that there were no WMD, but not everybody knows how we arrived at that place. This show, through an amazing script and supremely talented actors, explains how it happened. The show is presented to us as a – basically – true story, but the roles of many real people have been condensed into 6 characters in the play.
The show starts with at a meeting of the “Support Group of the Starters of the Iraq War”. Six people take turns explaining how their actions ended up causing the Iraq War in 2003. Each person’s story is told through comedy, music, and dance. The songs include an ode to biological warfare, a celebration of secret government reports, and a number in a strip club where the strippers wear animal costumes. Oh, and bureaucracy is worshipped in this show. Actually worshipped.
This play could not have been made a decade ago. Some people may still find it to be “too soon”. But this is a brave and timely play, and the acid dripping from some of the scenes eat away at the humor until we see something underneath that is frightening. I left the show realizing that I had learned something significant and serious; I wasn’t expecting that from a musical. It should probably be performed for high school kids. They would not fall asleep in this history lesson.
This should be seen by every intelligent and curious person who also happens to enjoy historical tragedy being presented by song and dance routines.
Who’s Your Baghdaddy? runs through September 29 at The Unicorn Theatre, 3828 Main St., Kansas City, MO. For tickets: www.unicorntheatre.org