Monday, November 8, 2010

After the Revolution

"After the Revolution" at Playwrights Horizons, October 29, 2010

Amy Herzog's tale of a family's struggle between ideal and reality centers around the legacy of the late Joe Joseph, a Communist Party member who stood up to the McCarthy hearings, refusing to name names during one of the darker political periods of our nation's history.  The story explores idealism vs. reality, truth vs. money.

(Spoiler Alert)

Ben (Peter Friedman) and Leo (Mark Blum), Joe's sons and both committed Marxists themselves, have learned that a book is about to be published identifying Joe as a Soviet Spy during WWII.  Turns out Ben had a pretty good idea it was true, though he never shared it with his idealistic daughter, Emma (Katharine Powell), who runs a defense fund in Joe's name, fighting for equal justice for the questionably accused.  The news turns Emma on her ear, questioning the foundation of her beliefs.  At the same time Emma's major donor, Morty (David Margulies), announces his plans to leave his entire estate to the fund, leaving Emma torn between the opportunity that such money would provide for her cause and the contradiction of doing so in the name of a traitor. 

It's a top-notch cast for the most part, supported by Mare Winningham in a sweet turn as Mel, Ben's well-meaning if not quite as intelligent wife and the inimitable Lois Smith as Ben and Leo's step-mother Vera.   The ironically named Vera is the least ready to reveal the truth about her late husband since it would negatively affect "the cause."  Mr. Friedman maintains the strongest performance, wearing his heart on his sleeve and flagellating himself once Emma learns the truth about Joe.  Ms. Powell, in the pivotal role, suffers from inconsistency.  Some moments are full of truth, but get undermined by moments of self-consciousness.

Director Carolyn Cantor keeps things moving, but the script could stand a trim of 15 minutes or so.  Clint Ramos' set morphs well to serve the multiple locations.

After the Revolution runs through November 28, 2010.  Playwrights Horizons offers the following discount:

Order by November 9 with code ARGR and tickets are only $45 (reg. $55) for all performances Oct. 29 – Nov. 28

·        Order online at Use code APGR.
·        Call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 (Noon-8pm daily)
·        Present a printout of this blog post to the Ticket Central box office at 416 West 42nd Street (Noon-8pm daily).

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