It's cartoony, cynical, obvious at times, and for ninety minutes it's can't stop watching theater. Politicians at play. What a concept.
Going by the audience reaction on opening night at GableStage, lpaywright Sarah Burgess might just as well called her piece “Schadenfreude.” Laughter at the witty lines, a sense of “of course that's what pols do,” “now that's really interesting, but not surprising,”, “it's all about the money,”permeated the evening.
The inimitable Karen Stephens plays Sydney Millsap, a black first year congresswomen from Texas. She's doing it for the people, voting for the USA, lobbyists be damned. Damned, too, her own party. Look out, here's a fresh new brush.
She's up for re-election and running against John McDowell, played by the equally inimitable Tom Wahl. He's the good old Texas boy, loved by one and all, well aware of where the buried bodies lie. And he's got the money. And she doesn't. How about a million a year, Honey? Just sign here. And don't run again.
This is a fast show, locations flashed on up stage screens. A year of meetings, resort jaunts, television appeals, soul killing fund raising, rallies, election debates, drinks and lies.
“Kings” has a lot more cooking than just them lyin' pols though. It's got redemption, sort of. Two lobbyists, cute girls in the late twenties, heartless. Nice clothes.
There's fast talking Kate, (Diana Garle) and vivacious Lauren (Leah Sessa). They lie, and manipulate, and double deal, and Kate eventually comes to believe that Sydney's way is the right way. Or does she? Oooh, the suspense.
“Kings” peaks in its scenes with Stephens and Wahl. They are actors who know well the meaning of nuance. Each minute with these two, especially in their debates and rallies, is a delight.
Directed by Joseph Adler with associate director Edson Jean.
Set by Lyle Baskin, lights Thomas Shorrock, sound Matt Corey, costumes Emil White, costume assistant Angelina Mola.
A sly choice by GableStage producing artistic director Joseph Adler. If you live and breathe in the USA today you're going to enjoy “Kings”.
“Kings” runs at GableStage through June 16. 1200 Anastasia Ave. at the Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables. 305-445-1119. www.gablestage.org