Face the nation

By CAROLYN CLAY  |  May 4, 2010

As the maritally troubled couple at the center of the action, Leigh Barrett and David Benoit, turning their hefty pipes to the sadly sweet “You Are the Owner of My Heart” (as well as to songs about love flushed down the john), are as sympathetic as they are absurd. As “The Girls,” robust stalwarts Kerry A. Dowling and Mary Callanan are abetted by Boston Conservatory junior Santina Umbach, her denseness as lovable as their more jaded spunk. Grant MacDermott is all leather-accessorized manliness and little-boy-lost as the dangerous Duke, and Caitlin Crosbie Doonan, her zippers flapping open and her heart hanging out, makes even the high-heeled home wrecker a sweetheart. Forget the dumpster — this trailer trash is worthy of the endless regional recycling it seems destined to get.

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FARRAGUT NORTH: Victor Shopov, Dakota Shepard, Peter Brown, and Zach Winston ponder whether they can get an intern elected president.

Crossing the playing space to retake my seat for act two of Farragut North (presented by Zeitgeist Stage Company at the BCA’s Plaza Black Box Theatre through May 22), I glanced at the paperback tossed onto a desk between director/set designer David J. Miller’s rudimentary representations of a mussed-up hotel room and a dingy restaurant in the political heartland. It was the script of Julius Caesar. And since the volume never figures in the action, I took it for a pretty apt joke. Beau Willimon’s 2008 peek into the dark closets of a burgeoning presidential campaign fields numerous “Et tu, Brute?” moments as 25-year-old press secretary Stephen Bellamy, flacking for a Howard Dean–like inspirational aspirant to the Oval Office, makes his slip from golden boy to whipping boy, all in the course of about 36 hours leading up to the Iowa caucuses.

No surprise that this twisted-and-turning peep at power-mongering, dirty-trickery, seduction, betrayal, inappropriate sex, poll manipulation, and media leakage on the campaign trail generated considerable interest when it opened Off Broadway just days after Barack Obama’s election had left campaign junkies jonesing. Penned by a veteran of several campaigns (including Dean’s), the play ably illustrates the way in which winning and spinning trump ideals and substance when the opportunity to be woven, large or small, into the skein of history looms. Devoid of the scabrous poetry, if not the ball busting, of David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow and Glengarry Glen Ross, Farragut North — named for a DC metro stop in the lobbyist neighborhood where failed politicos wind up — may have one or two too many table turnings, and the writing is nothing to write home about. But the play keeps you on the edge of your seat, as what at first seems a small skid on a political road trip turns into a train wreck generating multiple career fatalities.

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  Topics: Theater , Barack Obama, Election Campaigns, Zeitgeist Stage Company,  More more >
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