Face the nation

By CAROLYN CLAY  |  May 4, 2010

Even less remarkable than the play’s success in the immediate wake of the 2008 election is the fact that the fast-paced work — which is also in development by Warner Brothers — found its way into the hands of Zeitgeist honcho Miller, who’s as big a political-drama junkie as Stephen Bellamy is a political-gamesmanship one. Zeitgeist brought us the area premiere of David Hare’s Stuff Happens, which is about the run-up to the Iraq war, as well as that of Robert William Sherwood’s Spin, yet another work set on a presidential campaign trail where the driving is done less by the candidates than by their handlers. (In Farragut North, we get no closer to the actual aspirant than the sound of cheering as the door between a rally and the real action is briefly opened and closed.) Here Miller utilizes characteristically minimal stage dressing, a credible non-Equity cast, and the intimacy of the BCA’s Plaza Black Box — where every confrontation resonates — to spin a cautionary tale of civic principle roasted on a spit of ambition, indiscretion, and just plain spite.

One of the ironic pleasures of Farragut North is its portrayal — despite the presence of a couple of jaded old pros — of the political wars as a young man’s game. At 25, Stephen Bellamy is a veteran player with both a younger woman — nubile intern Molly — and a younger weasel — deputy press secretary Ben Fowles — in his thrall. Indeed, Victor Shopov’s Stephen, as attached to his blackberry as to his heartbeat, seems aged beyond his years, yet with an easily enrageable innocence. Zeitgeist stalwart Peter Brown is his amiable if ruthless boss and Bill Salem a deceptively avuncular Mephistopheles. Dakota Shepard, though young for her journalist role, flexes the muscle of the New York Times with relish, and Caitlyn Conley, as the intern with her head on more than one pillow, presents an intriguing combination of candor and come-on. Tune in a few elections down the road and maybe Molly will be president.

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