Thursday, July 02, 2009
Although L.A. is primarily known as the film capital of the world, it’s also home to several renowned theatrical venues. The Mark Taper Forum, Geffen Playhouse, and Pantages and Ahmanson theaters have all hosted—and sometimes even premiered—world-class productions of comedies, dramatic plays and musicals. Plus there’s usually at least one movie or TV star in the cast, always adding to the excitement of the performance.
Farragut North opened last week at the Geffen to rave reviews. Not only was the topic of the play—the behind-the-scenes political machinations of a fictional Democratic presidential campaign—right up my alley, but the cast was stellar: Isiah Whitlock, Jr., who played the corrupt senator on HBO’s The Wire, Olivia Thirlby, the best friend in Juno, Chris Noth, Sex and the City’s Mr. Big, and Chris Pine, Captain Kirk in the new Star Trek movie. As soon as I read the L.A. Times review, I went online and ordered a ticket for the Saturday matinee. My seat wasn’t ideal (way over to the left), but I was happy nonetheless as that day's performance ended up selling out.
Now I’ve followed politics for many years and have seen just about every movie made about presidential campaigns, so I wasn’t surprised at all by what happens in the play: the wunderkind political strategist decides to put his own ambitions above those of the campaign. But I was pleasantly surprised by the cast’s caliber of acting. Thirlby was good as the liberated young intern who’s attracted to powerful men and Noth was excellent as the aging politico. It was Pine, though, who stole the show, playing Noth’s fearless up-and-coming protégé. Since I've only seen him in Star Trek, all I can say is that he takes the confidence of Captain Kirk and redirects it into a much darker place, resulting, of course, in the downfall of at least one character. His performance was so engrossing that the audience loudly gasped a couple of times at his underhandedness, something I’ve never experienced in live theater before.
The play is on till July 26. I highly recommend seeing it if you’re in the neighborhood and want to see some really good L.A. theater.