Review by Carol Montana
ELLENVILLE, NY (June 7, 2012) – Saying that “Farragut North” is a timely political drama is something of an understatement.
“Farragut North” is named for a Washington Metro train station located near DC’s center for lobbyists, think tanks and advocacy groups – a perfect setting for the machinations of the political machine.
Loosely based on the 2004 Democratic primary campaign of Howard Dean, the script was adapted by George Clooney for the 2011 Oscar-nominated movie “The Ides of March.”
“Farragut North” has a little of everything: guts, lust, deceit, charm, power, lies and disloyalty. And as the original play was slated to open on Broadway as the lead-in to the 2008 presidential election, so, too, Shadowland’s production is a lead-in to the 2012 contest.
The play focuses on press secretary Stephen Bellamy (portrayed by Nick Ciavarella), who gets a crash course in backroom deals, political shenanigans and dirty politics on the eve of the presidential Iowa caucuses.
As we move through 24 hours of the campaign, complications arise in the form of affairs with staff members, news reporter scoops and insider tips, and a competing politician’s very attractive offer.
It’s like watching the proceedings through a spy-cam: rich, compelling and oh so naughty.
The cast includes, in addition to Ciavarella, Lori Wilner as Ida Horowicz (ambitious NY Times reporter), Mark Slama as Paul Zara (campaign manager and Bellamy’s boss), Patrick J. Kiernan as Ben (the mild-mannered deputy press secretary), Brianna Pozner as Molly (a not-so-innocent intern), D.C. Anderson as Tom (the opposition’s manager), and Arisael Rivera in a dual role of a restaurant owner and newspaper reporter.
Although it is difficult to “like” these characters (with the exception of the restaurant owner who is very sympathetic), the actors, under the typically superb direction of Shadowland’s Artistic Director Brendan Burke, maintain a breathtaking speed throughout, moving swiftly from one scene to another on the ingenious set design by Drew Francis. With furniture on wheels, sliding doors and a minimalist design, the stage becomes a bar, a bedroom, an airport, a campaign headquarters, a restaurant and more. Just brilliant.
Wit and witticisms abound in this tightly knit, well-crafted and well-acted play. And even though, in the first scene, one wishes that Ciavarella would slow down his speech patterns to an understandable pace, the rest of the play moves along at a top-notch, thoroughly smart, frighteningly real acceleration toward the inevitable conclusion.
Pay attention to this story. And watch some of it very possibly play out in real life in the days and months ahead.