David Nevell and Erin Anne Williams. Photo credit: Mike Bradecich

Canadian playwright Sean Devine’s 2016 play Daisy is now in production at Long Beach’s International City Theatre; it’s a virtual production that can be accessed online at https://www.virtualvenuetheatricals.com/internationalcitytheatre.

Though the first televised political advertisement was in 1952 in support of Dwight Eisenhower, the most notorious political ad was made in 1964. 

It’s now known as the Daisy ad and the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (more accustomed to creating catsup commercials than political ads) along with an innovative sound designer, Tony Schwartz created this infamous ad that at about one-minute in length was thought to be so objectionable that it aired only once in Lyndon Johnson’s campaign against Barry Goldwater for the presidency of the United States. 

With expert direction by caryn desai (sic), Daisy plays as a Zoom-like docudrama that informs us of a historical turning-point in political persuasion that haunts and infects our politics to this day. 

With a cast that is so credible and so focused that it is as if they are alive in the urgency of those times that vividly reflect our times. 

Not only is the presentation punctuated with images and voiceovers from the era, including President Eisenhower, President Johnson, Senator Barry Goldwater, then New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Walter Cronkite and bits of the Daisy ad, we also witness the sexism of the age, the “mansplaining” that was taken for granted at the time and we are familiarized with Tony Schwartz’s theories of sound, such as how humans fill-in the blank spaces left not only in sight but also in sound. As in, “I hope you’ll  remember it for the rest of your …” (Did you fill in that final missing word?)

David Nevell seems as if he is Tony Schwartz, embodying the character’s agoraphobia and genius. 
Philip J. Lewis is commanding as the aid to President Johnson who’s on a mission to see Johnson’s Great Society programs fulfilled. 

Ed F. Martin, Alex Dabenstani and Matthew Floyd Miller are the “mad men” incarnate of the Doyle Dane Bernbach ad agency, while Erin Anne Williams is the sole woman who battles not only to be heard but to deliver some soulful consciousness to the agency’s efforts, even as she struggles with her own lapses in honesty.  

For an engrossing and learned experience in this new age of theatrical delivery log-in to Daisy at https://www.virtualvenuetheatricals.com/internationalcitytheatre.