He infiltrated the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan and almost single-handedly destroyed the Black Panthers. Using subversive and often illegal methods, he amassed file upon file of potentially embarrassing information on the major politicians and public figures of his day. He was also a secretive figure and a reputed cross-dresser. He was J. Edgar Hoover, of course, and this weekend the Theater Company of Lafayette tackles his long and weird legacy in G-Men in G-Strings: The J. Edgar Hoover Follies.
A collection of nine short character sketches and a few musical numbers, G-Men in G-Strings is, in the words of TCL Artistic Director Madge Montgomery, more of a "festival" than a play. "I just think that term conveys more that it's not the extended work of one writer," she says. "it's nine writers, and they're basically just taking a theme and going where they want to go with it."
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One sketch, for example, shows the young Hoover watching another kid get assaulted by bullies before the bullies turn on him. When the fight's broken up by a few neighborhood moms, Hoover hides and listens to the moms chatting -- and finds out some embarrassing information about the bullies. "So it's like he realizes, that's his power," says Montgomery.
Other sketches don't feature Hoover directly, but rather allude to him, like one in which an overzealous Transportation Security Administration agent takes his work life home. And though Montgomery wouldn't say much about the finale, she assures us that, indeed, it will feature G-Men in G-Strings.
And though she concedes that the whole thing is pretty silly, Montgomery posits that the play might be more than just a lark: "Even though he lived a long time ago, I think the themes of his life still resonate today."
G-Men in G-Strings debuts tonight at the Mary Miller Theatre at 300 East Simpson Street in Lafayette and runs through August 7. For more information, read Jason's Heller's write-up in Night & Day or go to the TCL site.