Gail Fenumiai, now starring in "Write-In: The Count," which can be seen on statewide television, is no Sarah Palin. She has neither Ms. Palin's hunger for melodrama nor her thirst for controversy.
But cast by Craig Campbell as Alaska's Director of Elections, Ms. Fenumiai gives the performance of a lifetime as the tireless, disciplined, honorable bureaucrat who, besieged by campaign operatives representing Lisa Murkowski and Joe Miller, attempts to count votes -- more than 90,000 of them -- fairly and impartially.
Mr. Campbell's set can best be described as minimalist, evoking memories of Eugene Ionesco's "The Chairs." Certainly there are enough chairs -- and tables -- in the soulless long room where Ms. Fenumiai's employees spend their days pawing through stacks of write-in ballots to discover which votes were properly cast for Sen. Murkowski. One hoped for at least a cameo by Murkowski and her Republican opponent Joe Miller, but alas, neither appears on stage. We are left to infer their views from spokesmen John Tracy, the voice of macho certainty, and Randy DeSoto who, consistent with his earlier role in the campaign, seems sadly vexed but unclear about what to do next.
Sean Cockerham of the Anchorage Daily News and William Yardley of the New York Times lead a gaggle of reporters attempting to dope out where the count is headed. Cockerham and Yardley may not win roles in "The Front Page," but they are serviceable.
The tedium of the counting is at points so numbing one wonders if Mr. Campbell consulted the works of Samuel Beckett for guidance on how to make the meaningful look meaningless.
Much of the effective drama of "Write-In" revolves around the existential question -- perhaps a sly tip of the hat to the theater of the absurd -- how do you spell Murkowski?
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