Reviewed by Judy Richter
Money is undoubtedly the most important factor, but others stand in line, too. That's what a promising young politician learns in Kenneth Lin's "Warrior Class." Presented by TheatreWorks, "Warrior Class" is a fascinating back room look at politics today.
The politician is Julius Weishan Lee (Pun Bandhu), an Asian American, New York assemblyman and decorated Marine veteran who's viewed by some as the Republican Obama. An eloquent speech after the 9/11 attacks, in which his sister died, has thrust him into the spotlight. Now party operatives are looking into his background to make sure there are no red flags.
This vetting process is mainly undertaken by the savvy, smooth-talking Nathan Berkshire (Robert Sicular). All looks good until Nathan unearths information about unwise behavior toward a girlfriend when Julius was in college.
The ex-girlfriend, the wary Holly Eames (Delia MacDougall), contends that Julius's behavior after their breakup caused her great mental anguish.Nathan tries to persuade her to keep quiet about the incident, but she keeps raising the stakes.
In the meantime, Nathan tries to steer Julius toward an Assembly committee that has the power to benefit one or more of the party's major donors. Julius finally realizes that if he wants their backing, he must bow to the big money men.
In the meantime, it turns out that both Holly and Nathan have their own problems. No one looks all that great by the end of this two-act play, which runs just under two hours with intermission.
Director Leslie Martinson elicits outstanding performances from all three actors. The interchanges and conflicts between them ring true and intrigue the audience.
The action takes place in a Baltimore steak house and Julius's home in New York City. Erik Flatmo's set, lit by Steven B. Mannshardt, easily accommodates the scene changes. The contemporary costumes are by Noah Marin with sound by Brendan Aanes.
The ending might leave some viewers looking for more resolution. However, it needs to be ambiguous because decisions need to be made now that all the dirt has been dished. Thus viewers are left to ponder what the characters will do after they've had more time to think. The main question is whether Julius will go along with the money men or stick to his principles. One can easily imagine that many real politicians have faced, are facing or will face the same dilemma.
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