Wednesday, July 20, 2016

"Confederates" ☼ ☼

The World Premiere of Suzanne Bradbeer's "The Confederates" gives us a three-person drama dealing with Presidential primaries and the hypocrisy of the media who covers them. We get Will, the young, idealistic reporter (Richard Prioleau); Stephanie (Tasha Lawrence), the hard-boiled realist willing to do anything to advance her career; and Maddie (Jessica Lynn Carroll), the daughter of a leading presidential candidate. Maddie and Will know each other from their younger days, and this leads to a revelation to Will from Maddie that could alter the upcoming election.

Should Will run with this scoop? Should he tell Stephanie, his older, more experienced boss? And in the end, in the pivotal scene, will the young idealist bow to pressure or do what his heart tells him?

We have a problem with Maddie. Her character is too undefined. She is neither bad nor good, dumb or smart, artsy or just plain conniving. Should we sympathize with her? Should we believe what she has done was nothing more than juvenile stupidity, or is there an undercurrent implied but never explored?

We like Lawrence's Stephanie, easy to read and simple to predict, and Prioleau is a good enough Will, though he too suffers from staying in the emotional middle. It may be a problem of Lisa Rothe's direction or simply that this is a brand new show and the actors still have to work out where they stand on the many issues that are presented.

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Confederates" Two Stars. We feel it will improve with time, but right now it is too close to real life without telling us anything we don't already know. Until we know Maddie, we can't know Will, and if we don't know either of them his decision doesn't really matter.

Lucie Stern Theatre
1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
Through August 7

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