Feds Spend $60,000 for Play About
First Gay President Who Fights Zombies in WH Basement

Also an ‘adulterous First Gentleman’

October 9, 2015

The National Endowment for the Arts gave $60,000 for the production of a play about the first openly gay president of the United States who has to fight zombies in the basement, and who has a cheating First Man.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) highlighted the grant for "Zombie: The American" in his running series meant to expose wasteful spending.

"The year is 2063 and Thom Valentine, the first openly gay President of the United States, faces a host of problems," reads the Woolley Mammoth Theater Company’s description of the play. "An imminent civil war, the threat of an African invasion, an adulterous First Gentleman, and zombies in the basement of the White House!"

"With his power, his marriage, and the nation’s well-being at stake, he must decide what he cares most about saving … and at what cost."

"From the recesses of Robert O’Hara’s warped imagination comes a classically-inspired sci-fi thriller about a young Commander-in-Chief searching for the strength to hold our union together," the theater company said.

"Zombie: The American" had a one-month run in Washington, D.C., this summer. Tickets cost between $35 and $68.

"It’s thrilling to be tackling a play about the Nation’s capital of the future," the play’s director Howard Shalwitz said.

Sen. Flake criticized the project as an example of egregious spending, saying, "With spending like this, brain-eating zombies shouldn’t be a problem for D.C."

The Washington Post panned "Zombie: The American" as a "frustrating muddle." The play "gets so lost in its own conceits that you’d welcome an actor stopping a scene to say: ‘Wait. What’s the point of this again?’ That question certainly occurred to me, as events lurched inexorably toward incoherence," wrote Peter Marks, the Post’s chief theater critic.

Some reviews were positive. "A shock-your-mama must-see … not for the faint of heart or the overly politically correct," according to "Bitches who Brunch."