FATHERLAND [EXTENDED] - Fountain Theatre (Second Review)

by Nyla Arslanian

There's nothing I enjoy more than what I call "pin drop theatre" the magic moments when a production has the rapt attention of the audience. There were so many of the moments on Monday during Fatherland at the Fountain Theatre.

Truthfully, every time I go to the Fountain Theatre, I'm sure it will be an extraordinary play. They just don't do anything that isn't superlative-that I've seen anyway. Fatherland is no exception. Reviewed at the beginning of its run and extended until May 26, it definitely was worthy of another look. (You may also want to read Amalisha HuEck's earlier review.)

As you can tell, I was not disappointed.

First, the play, masterly "conceived" and directed by Stephen Sachs is an extraordinary piece. Working from the actual courtroom transcripts, Sachs has crafted spellbinding theatre. I guess you could call this a "courtroom drama," but based on what a shared national experience was still in our minds, adds another dimension.

Noted in the program that "Every word comes from court evidence, public statements, and the official court transcript of The United States vs. Guy Wesley Reffitt jury trial" resulting from the Reffitt's actions on January 6, 2021.

Interspersed in the questions and answers of the U.S. Attorney and Son are scenes between the father and son. Little seems to be left out of the narrative and the play unfolds.

Anna Khaja as the U.S. Attorney is flat and exact in her questioning. She is professional and unemotional but still holds our attention and interest.  Early scenes between the Father and Son revealed a relatively "normal" relationship. New arrival to L.A. theatre, Patrick Kelleher's focal point performance and at a perfect pitch throughout keeping the audience enthralled even as it knew where things were heading.

Enough can't be said about Ray Bottitta's performance as the Father. A more demanding and complex role, he takes us through his process of radicalization which climaxes in his recollection of his personal moment of triumph assaulting the steps of the Capitol of the United States.

And then it all crashes in.

The play culminates with the final cross examination of the son by his father's Defense Attorney solidly played by veteran actor Larry Poindexter. We learn details not revealed in the earlier scenes and experience the son's anguish yet still fully believing he had done the right thing.

Neither a courtroom nor political drama, this was verbatim theatre at its finest.

Stephen Sachs has announced his retirement from the Fountain Theatre by year's end. He's written and/or directed many offerings through the years. Fatherland as it is "conceived" could be his crowning achievement at this theatre.

Fatherland has been extended at The Fountain through July 21. Don't miss it.

Posted By DH Magazine on May 02, 2024 03:11 pm | Permalink