HLS Drama Society Presents Parody 2007


The cast of Parody 2007, The Da Vinci Model Penal Code.

“Welcome to Harvard Law – the most unreasonable of all.” Robert Langdell (Kees Vandenberg) is just another typical 1L, running to get to class ten minutes before it starts, fretting about Ames, and frantically signing up for professors’ office hours. That is, until he finds Professor Charlie Nesson dead in his office. Framed by Love-My-GPA-Leen-McGrath (Lauren Popper Ellis) and the Law Review, Langdell, aided by Ashley Aull-set (Theresa House) must find the true reasonable man on campus. Is it a man? A woman? Is it Landgell? Ashley Aull-set? Occasionally advancing that loose plot, HLS Parody 2007, The Da Vinci Model Penal Code, delivered two and a half hours of songs and laughs to packed houses Tuesday night through Saturday night last week.

This year’s Parody was filled with many memorable moments, such as the dramatic readings of MyPlan emails that kicked off and continued throughout the night. Of course, the highlight of these readings was Dean Cosgrove’s cameo, complete with a sign informing the audience that she had nothing to do with MyPlan. Naturally, Dean Cosgrove was not the only faculty member or professor parodied. Kelly Brown brought infuriation and resolve to Dean Kagan’s hypothetical reaction to the MyPlan problems. Others parodied Professors Hanson, Hay, Fried, Field, Dershowitz, Tushnet, and Clark. Indeed, one of the best skits was “America’s Next Top Law Professor.” With Nesson dead (the plot occasionally crept back into the show), HLS needed a new top law professor. Fried, Field, Dershowitz, Tushnet, and Clark were the five remaining contestants. Shockingly, Dershowitz rigged the results.

Cracks were not only taken at professors and faculty. Politicians and celebrities also came under fire, especially President Bush, who merited his own song, “Scandals Back.” Former President Clinton, Mark Foley, John Roberts, Tom Cruise, Samuel L. Jackson, and Borat also secured some face-time.

In addition to the MyPlan email readings, the show opened with the hilarious song “Republican Girl.” Expertly timed with the new admit weekend hosted last weekend, the song adorably made fun of the Republican-Democrat, right-left tension that occasionally surfaces on campus. While vying for new admits to join their side of the battle, Republican Girl, dressed all in red, eventually falls for Democrat Boy, fully clad in blue.

The musical numbers only got better. As expected, the entire OCI process made the writers’ hit list, complete with a song about callbacks referencing the Charles Hotel’s chocolate covered pretzels, and a skit about firm receptions, highlighted by the amusing observation by a female associate that, “like unicorns, female partners only exist in little girls’ dreams.” The underlying message: “OCI is like getting laid.”

Recent developments at HLS also earned skits and songs. The virtues of the Hark Pub, with its abundance of alcohol and never-ending drink tickets, were explored in “Getting Drunk at the Hark”; the decay of Lincoln’s Inn was referenced in a skit leading to the comical song “Age of the Internet”; Professor Goldsmith’s “Lawyering for the President in the Age of Terrorism” seminar facilitated much of the Bush parodying; and the ongoing joke that law school is just like high school was dealt with by “Junior High.” Our beloved Sodexho lady even got a shout out.

Also as expected, the Law Review played a central role in the Parody. Indeed, I would have been disappointed if the Law Review was not central to the plot. Returning to the plot, after a rare glimpse into the deep, dark, lair-like Gannett House and a song, Love-My-GPA-Leen-McGrath and her Law Review cohorts tracked Langdell to Nesson’s office where they were surprised to find two Nessons, then three Nessons. Which one was the real Nesson? Following another song, the real, real Nesson was revealed. Emerging from the troop of dancing HLS students, Professor Nesson helped end the show in style.

Between the musical numbers, the loose plot line, and the tangentially related skits, the point of Parody 2007 was quite obvious and rather true: Harvard Law in its entirety is unreasonable, of course, and we should all just surrender to the general absurdity it brings to our lives and enjoy being unreasonable along with it! The audience seemed to be in agreement. A wholly unscientific survey of audience members after the show Thursday night yielded plenty of positive comments. Many commented, “the show was better and shorter than last year.” Others were excited to find both obvious and obscure references in the show, such as the parodying of at least six Federalist Society officers. Overall, HLS Parody 2007 was a smash hit.

Rating: ***

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