It’s always a pleasure to see a new play performed; it’s even more of a pleasure to see a very good new play performed. One of the many joys of the area arts scene is that the theaters don’t shy away from new work, and this is very much in evidence with the latest offering at Cap Rep, “The God Game,” written by Suzanne Bradbeer, being presented here as part of a rolling world premiere in conjunction with the Gulfshore Playhouse in Naples, Florida.
It is Tom (Laurence Lau) and Lisa’s (Yvonne Perry) 20th wedding anniversary; he is a popular Virginia senator, and she is his equally popular wife, whose good works in the community have made her beloved. With the arrival of Matt (Jeffrey Binder), an old friend, they find out that Tom has been tapped to potentially run as the vice presidential candidate for the very conservative Republican presidential candidate; Tom’s moderate politics will balance out the ticket, and Matt thinks, with Tom on board, they have a chance of winning the election. The only problem is, Matt thinks Tom comes across as not religious enough for the country, and Tom refuses to play the religion card to win over voters; he believes, as Thomas Jefferson did before him, that religion should be a private matter.
There are a lot of very big issues tackled in the brief (less than two-hour) run time of this production: truth, religion, relationships, sexuality, politics, morality. However, it never comes across as too heavy-handed, and it never comes across as preachy — that fine line is one that Bradbeer walks well.
’The God Game’
WHERE: Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 North Pearl St., Albany
WHEN: Through May 25
HOW MUCH: $60-$16
MORE INFO: 445-7469, www.capitalrep.org
In the curtain speech, we were told it was still a work in progress — the playwright is still tweaking her words — and it is obvious there are a few spots that could use some polish. But overall, this is truly a stunning work, and about such timely topics.
Lau’s Tom, while having the booming voice and stage presence needed for any great politician, lacked a bit of the charisma needed; he had a bit of a tendency to stare off into space, and it was hard to tell if it was in character, or the actor’s affectation.
Binder’s Matt bounced between driven, snarky and broken beautifully, and Perry’s Lisa was the star of the night. A politician’s wife wears many hats, but truly, she’s holding everything together — and Perry seemed to understand this, and played it to perfection. A combination of Bradbeer’s writing and Perry’s acting made every scene with her electric.
People may be hesitant to give this show a try, as it doesn’t have the name recognition a larger, more well-known play might, but I would urge them to set aside their preconceptions and try something they know very little about — especially in this case.