A 21st century mash-up of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Catch-22, What You Will On Capitol Hill provides a worm’s-eye view of life in the nation’s capital.
It begins with the panicky thoughts in an actor’s head as the curtain rises on a performance of Twelfth Night at which most of the characters – senators, slam poets, billionaires, mercenaries, actors, lobbyists – are either performers in the play or members of the audience.
Karen is a peace lobbyist desperate to pass a bill that might entice military contractors into building infrastructure rather than weapons. Jonathan is an actor whose big break could be happening that night as an understudy in the play. Harry, an unlucky-in-love Shakespeare scholar, falls for a best-selling travel writer sitting next to him. János, a jaded Hungarian diplomat, and Bartholomew, an uber-confident slam poet, are both blindsided with passion for the leading actors on stage.
Love, lust, mistaken identities and valiant idealism draw this unlikely grab bag of lovers, ranging in age from twenty to eighty, into lobbying for Karen’s bill. Their efforts bring exuberant romantic entanglements. How do you find love in the 21st century? How to give peace a chance?
Answers lie in little known Capitol Hill hangouts, luxurious K Street restaurants, tunnels beneath the Library of Congress, runs around the national mall, and a film set where an extra portraying a revolutionary soldier turns out to be a real-life mercenary maddened with blood lust.
The final answer rests in the innermost sanctum of the Senate, the office of the president pro tem, where both legislation and lovers careen toward disaster in a world filled with armed drones and random emoticons.
January 3, 2015
Lives and philosophies collide, leading to romantic infatuations, rivalries and self-revelation.Tillotson’s commentary on the performative aspects of politics, media and even personal relationships is as astute as it is timely. The characters, for instance, critique the aesthetic elements of television news programs just as they do a production of Shakespeare. Tillotson’s dark humor and satire are also delightful, as when Jonathan, starring as Alexander Hamilton in a dramatic re-creation of the Battle of Yorktown for a TV documentary, finds himself acting alongside a fragile GI with bloodlust in the role of a fellow Revolutionary soldier. Tillotson playfully draws on elements of a classic comedy of manners, such as serendipitous meetings, reversals, mistaken identity and frustrated coupling … A witty and energetic novel in which the personal is the political.