Kathleen Turner takes on Molly Ivins


One of the best people to ever hail from Texas was Molly Ivins.

If the name doesn’t ring a bell, here’s all you really need to know: she came up with the most apropos nickname George W. Bush ever had: “Shrub.”

Ivins is something of a legend around here because she had a way of bringing highfalutin politicians down a notch or two with a well-placed barb that caused even her targets to crack a smile. She had that in common with one of her best friends, Ann Richards. And like her friend Ann, she left us far too soon.

Now the Philadelphia Theater Company is bringing Ivins’ word to life via a new one-woman play, Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, with Kathleen Turner as the witty wordsmith.

Here’s how the theater describes the play: “In Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, Kathleen Turner portrays the unsinkable Molly Ivins, the famously brassy newspaper columnist and best-selling author. A true Texas original, Ivins was a sharp-tongued wit who skewered the political establishment and the ‘good ole boys’ with her unforgettable humor and wisdom. Written by twin sisters, themselves longtime journalists, the play celebrates Ivins’ courage and tenacity — even when it seemed like a complacent America wasn’t listening.”

The play, based on Ivins’ own words, follows Molly’s life from her somewhat privileged beginnings in the River Oaks part of Houston to her first job at the Houston Chronicle to her fish-out-of-water tenure at the New York Times (she was fired for writing about a community chicken-killing festival and called it a “gang pluck”) until she finally landed in Dallas, where she found her voice — and the audience that followed her the rest of her life.

Turner was part of a staged reading of Red Hot Patriot in August and was so taken by the work that she agreed to play Molly in the Philadelphia premier, which runs March 19 – April 18.

I think Turner is a good fit for Molly, although I’m not sure Ivins would be too thrilled that the play is opening in Pennsylvania. Still, if it’s a success, maybe more of the U.S. will get to know Molly Ivins. And that can only make this country a better place to be.

What do you think? Can Kathleen Turner bring Molly Ivins to life?

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