If you felt a vacuum in your life after the election and all that led up to it, if you must get your political fix, if you love intrigue and backstabbing politicians and their handlers, you might love Farragut North at the Geffen Playhouse. I know my heart started to pump adrenaline and my mind started to race trying to keep up with the goings-on onstage.
Political thrillers has long fascinated playgoers and movie watchers. The Manchurian Candidate, The Best Man, All The President’s Men, MacBird, and the recent Cornelia all come to mind. Our minds love a puzzle, and political dramas, mysteries, and courtroom dramas are staples in the theatre. Farragut North was written by Beau Willimon who seems to specialize in this genre (he is writing the screenplay for Farragut North as well as an adaptation of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities). His dialogue is fast, furious, and riveting.
Farragut North stars Chris Noth of Sex In The City and Law and Order fame, and Chris Pine, the new Captain Kirk in the movie Star Trek. They play political consultants for an unseen candidate. The play begins with them bragging to a reporter (Mia Barron) about tarnishing an opponent's image in a past campaign with the label of "anti-Semitic." We know right off that these two have no morals.
Noth's character is the man in charge while Pine's is his protégé. While Noth plays the cagy, laid-back political advisor, Pine is a shark, considered by many to be the best; the opposition consultant (the excellent Isiah Whitlock Jr.) tries to steal him away. Along the way we encounter Molly, an helper in the candidate’s office, who plays an important part in the plot and is beautifully played by Olivia Trilbey. In the course of the play everyone uses and/or betrays everyone else.
This may not be the greatest political thriller to come down the pike but it is well worth a look. The play is masterfully directed by Doug Hughes. He keeps the action taut and the dialogue exploding. The news here is just how good Chris Pine is in the leading role. He captivates the audience with his good looks and aggressive behavior. Think an unfunny Ari Gold in the TV show Entourage. Pine has a true star presence. I thought this when I saw Star Trek, but his work on stage confirmed it. Chris Pine is off to a great start in his career.
Farragut North plays at the Geffen Playhouse until July 26th.