You might think that a play about tea with the First Ladies would be dull, but Bromka squeezes a lot of history and humanity into her performance. Humanity is the key. I may be a history buff, but I was humbled by just how little I knew about these women. In fact, as someone in my late twenties, I couldn't summon up a picture of them or hear their accents in my head. It may not just be my age. First-Lady-dom institutionalizes these women and denies the humanity behind the role.
As Bromka told more of their families, upbringings, and personal history, it lifted the institutional veil. The First Ladies morphed from historical figures to relatable women. Hearing their improbable paths to the White House, I realize what a bizarre course it is from love affair to First Lady, especially in an earlier time when wives didn't necessarily have an equal say in their husband's career choices. Michelle Obama giving Barack the third degree about why he wanted to run, how he thought he could win, and what he would accomplish once in office is a testament not only to Mrs. Obama but to these millennial times.
For more on the current first marriage, read this profile of the Obamas in the New York Times Magazine. For more on the lives and times of Ladybird, Pat, and Betty, see Tea for Three. Two thumbs up!
I had the opportunity to speak with Elaine Bromka after the show. She was fantastic -- passionate about her research, writing, and performance. A real triple threat in my book!