Alliance Repertory Theatre Company, in Summit, presents the New Jersey premiere of Jason Odell Williams’ “Church and State,” through March 23 and it is a politically-charged satire that will leave you reeling.
Gordon Wiener directs this mordant commentary on our world and its topsy-turvy combinations of what must and what should, in conflict with what really is. This play is only two years old and it captures the moment–every moment–of the postmodern zeitgeist of the bane and boon of social media.
Republican North Carolina Senator Charles Whitmore (Brett LaRose) is in the throes of the final days of his re-election campaign. His devoutly Christian wife Sara (Leslie Gayle Williams) is by his side. Earlier in the week, the elementary school where their two sons attend school was the scene of an active shooter situation, and earlier in the day, they attended a funeral for two of their sons’ friends. This is a roiling turmoil of a time and when Whitmore makes an unguarded comment to a blogger, we are off to the races. Whitmore has had the temerity to question the existence of a benevolent God in the wake of this tragedy and the blogger sees a chance to make hay and gain his personal 15 seconds of fame at the expense of an off the cuff remark.
Predictably, his liberal Democratic campaign manager Alex Klein (Candy Fox) brings her NYC perspective to the moment, and with lightning reflexes, searches social media to assess the damage. Initially, it seems the blogger’s link is not functional, but then, shortly thereafter, the fun begins.
Moment by moment in this play, the playwright teases out the nuances of modern society. What we feel and what we must publicly say are two different things. Public figures must be monolithic in their pronouncements and, even after a shooting, must a Republican Senator literally stick to his guns with a sound endorsement of almighty Second Amendment rights? Or is a middle ground truly possible? Buy your tickets and find out.
Kyle Walton plays several roles–Tom, the nervously energetic campaign worker, a body guard, a blogger, each limned with care and having his own persona. Fox’s Klein is acetylene focus–razor sharp and continually calculating all the angles. Perspicacious and shrewd, she does her best to steer the Senator through the shoals. LaRose presents a perfect portrait of a public man in private moments and we can see the gears moving as he formulates what’s next. Williams delivers everything we’d expect from a stand-by-your-man Southern Belle, and the grit and backbone to stand her ground when it means the most. You will literally be reeling by the end of the show, with your brain popping like a popcorn popper with thoughts, feelings and emotion.
Make your reservations NOW! This play only runs until March 23! Make an evening of it and get your tickets here at www.alliancerep.org