LATHAM -- For those who enjoyed binge watching the brutal backstabbing and dirty political trickery in the Netflix series “House of Cards”, there is much to love in Beau Willimon’s thrill ride of a play, "Farragut North."
But those of us who are suffering severe election fatigue will probably spend your evening trying to stifle a scream, fumbling for an elusive mute button to make the madness stop, and ultimately find no respite from the affliction.
WHERE: Curtain Call Theatre, Latham
WHEN: Through November 26
HOW MUCH: $24
MORE INFO: 518-877-7529, http:www.curtaincalltheatre.com
Taking its title from the Washington, D.C. metro stop where most of the lobbyists work, "Farragut North" is based on the author’s experience working on the political campaign of Howard Dean’s presidential run and Chuck Schumer’s first run for the Senate. Willimon’s taught and clever play emerged almost a decade ago. But the plotline is playing out in the media even as we speak.
Aspiring Stephen Bellamy, (played here with innocent bravado by Stephen Maggio), is a 25-year-old press secretary for a Democratic presidential candidate who is setting up campaign base camp in Iowa for the caucuses. As he sits in a bar with his boss Paul (Kevin Barhydt), ambitious New York Times journalist Ida (Elizabeth Pietrangelo) and recently acquired intern Ben (Nick Bosanko), the bragging blares, the booze flows, but it’s all part of a game. Underneath, a strategic plan is set in motion. The cast is made. Bait is dangled, hook is set and the reel-in begins. Then, in one brief moment, the line snaps. In a moment of curiosity, self-pride and blind ambition, Stephen makes a misstep which sucks him into a vortex from which there is little hope of escape.
Reminiscent in style and tone of David Mamet’s "Glengarry Glen Ross," where the corruption is in the land of real estate, Willimon exposes the same in the world of politicos as they market fraud and illusion to the masses. They show us an ugly world full of snakes and lethal make-believe, to a good conscience anyway.
At its heart -- if this story has one -- "Farragut North" is a morality tale. But in a world where morality is considered a malady, and right now, this is a hard story to hear. Even if it's true.
Under Steve Fletcher’s direction, this story of spin is sadly slow. Backstabbing and blindsides work most effective when performed fast and fierce. On opening night, the pace was uneven allowing a story that should not stop moving to stall and sputter. But that didn’t stifle many audience members from audibly gasping at some of the finer twists of the script.
To be fair, as fine as this production is and as good as Willion’s script is, the play’s subject matter has worn me out. Like a good many of us, I pine for the morning of Nov. 9 when, hopefully, the endless droning will cease. For those that love the chatter – and a good little thrill ride – stopping at "Farragut North" may prove fun.