Produced by: TheatreWorks Silicon Valley
Directed by: Lisa Rothe
Featuring: Tasha Lawrence, Richard Prioleau, Jessica Lynn Carroll
Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission
When: July 13 through August 7, 2016
Where: Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
Tickets: $19 (30 and under)-$80; savings available for educators, seniors, and patrons 30 and under. Pricing subject to change.Visit theatreworks.org or call 650-463-1960.
of ethics and friendship
poses some fascinating questions
The word is generally out that Suzanne Bradbeer's "Confederates" somehow features a flag of the Confederacy, but it's more fun to think of the title in another meaning of the word: "a person one works with, especially in something secret or illegal."
That's because Bradbeer likes to "put interesting, complicated people in situations, in ethical dilemmas," as she told me in a recent interview.
Ethical dilemmas abound in "Confederates," which features a veteran reporter worried about a buyout; a younger reporter worried about getting a leg up in his career; and a young woman with a "salacious secret" (Bradbeer's words) who is the daughter of a charismatic presidential candidate.
The two reporters are confederates early on, working for the same boss in covering the presidential campaign. Then the younger reporter becomes confederates with the young woman when he learns her secret, and wants to help her.
And then, again, the two reporters are forced to, in a sense, become confederates again, when the salacious secret hits the fan and both are in danger of being splattered with the fallout.
They both like the candidate, they both like the daughter, but both are caught in a nightmarish conflict of journalistic and career ethics.
It's a dangerous situation, and hats off to Bradbeer for doing such a fine job of presenting what it's like to be a journalist with ethics in this weird, modern time of struggling news agencies.
It's a fascinating story that builds on three strong characters, and leaves us with plenty to think about as we exit the theater.
Tasha Lawrence is wonderful to watch as Stephanie, the older journalist. She layers on multiple depths of personality with wit, cynicism and warmth in an always fascinating mix. It could be argued that she gets the best lines, including "If you're going to flirt with me, you're going to have to get better at it." Lawrence has done Broadway, off-Broadway, regional theaters, TV and movies. This is her TheatreWorks debut.
Richard Prioleau is Will, the younger journalist, and he informs the part with a strong mix of eager rookie-ism, ambition and an open-hearted desire to be a good guy. He was in "Wild With Happy" at TheatreWorks and has done plenty of regional theater and TV.
Jessica Lynn Carroll is a South Bay local who was in "Auctioning the Ainsleys" at TheatreWorks. She is Maddie, the daughter with a secret, and brings a young-girl voice that gets increasingly strident as she begins to understand the depth of the hole she has dug for herself.
Drama! Bradbeer wrote it, and those three actors make it breathe.
Scenic designer Andrew Boyce's set is brilliant. Build mainly of two walls at right angles to each other, with big window, it rotates on the Lucie Stern Theater turntable, with clever changes of draperies, wall accoutrement and props making it quickly change from scene to scene. Really, it deserved its own curtain call, along with the actors and stagehands who helped make the transitions work. Now it's a briefing room, then a bar, then a bedroom, then something else, and it all works, never slowing the dramatic build.
Pamila Z. Gray's lighting design helped it work.
Email John Orr at email@example.com