Theater Review: 'Farragut North' A Fitting Piece During Political Season

Published: September 16, 2016 at 12:00 am


RIDGEFIELD - Political savvy and youth are the heady mix inherent in Stephen, the central character in Beau Willimon's Farragut North, the season opener at Ridgefield Theater Barn. Tightly directed by Cathy Fitzpatrick Linder, intrigue, ambition, and deceit make for a toxic mix in which no one can be trusted.

Stephen (played by Jack Tynan) is an upstart press secretary for a presidential candidate, campaigning early in the primary process. He regales his cohorts with tales of his political prowess and quick wit. He is a smooth operator with a wunderkind reputation.

Ida (Julie Zelman) is a reporter for The New York Times and has proven a useful partner for Stephen's machinations. His boss, Paul (Fred Rueck), is a hard-skulled character with the scars to prove his years on the front lines of political war.

Ben (Ryan Wenke) is deputy press secretary. He is the younger still upstart who keeps his cards close to his vest and his nose squeaky clean.

With an ingénue's appearance and the heart of a vixen, intern Molly (Margaret Fegan) seduces as she becomes a pawn.

The opposing forces are represented by Tom (Steven Mueller). Tom casts his net in a clandestine effort to reel in power players from the other team. Christopher Cooney plays L.A. Times Reporter Frank and in the opening night performance, the waiter. His characters are an old-school reporter sniffing around for the scoop and a waiter wielding words of wisdom.

The rat-a-tat pace of the sharp writing moves the complex and clever plot along. Twists, turns, passion, and betrayal slowly peel back the layers to reveal who these characters are underneath their dense veneers.

Behind the scenes, politics is a treacherous business.

On stage throughout the entire play, Jack Tynan gives a powerhouse, pitch perfect performance. He never misses a beat throughout reams of fast-paced dialogue he delivers flawlessly. He has captured this character.

Playing Ben, the sweet-faced newbie, Ryan Wenke is excellent as he quietly observes, waiting for just the right moment to make his move.

Julie Zelman gives an edgy portrayal of her reporter, which works as a woman who lives out of a suitcase in a man's world.

In her debut acting performance, Margaret Fegan gives a layered performance, capably portraying the innocence and sophistication in her young character.

Steven Mueller imbues his character with an air of mystery appropriate to his actions.

Mr Cooney plays both the waiter and the reporter with skill, energy, and curiosity.

This all works like a well-oiled machine under the precise direction of Ms Fitzpatrick Linder. The story captivated the opening night audience, which was engaged throughout the performance. This is whip-smart theater in the hands of some very fine actors.

In this year of high political stakes, this is a fitting piece. Catch it while you can.

Presented by arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Farragut North continues at Ridgefield Theater Barn weekends through October 1.

Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings at 8, with Sunday matinees at 5 pm on September 18 and 25.

Tickets are $24 for adults, $20 for senior citizens (age 62 and above), students, and veterans.

Visit ridgefieldtheaterbarn.org or call 203-431-9850 for reservations and additional information.

Please note this work has "very adult language and situations," according to the RTB website.

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