FARRAGUT NORTH – Theatre Review

Ambition can be a dangerous thing, especially for someone working in politics. Political ambitions are meticulously planned and artistically executed.  There is no guess work.  For Stephen Bellamy (actor Alex McMorran) there is no limit to his ambition because there is no limit to power. He’s one of the best junior campaign managers and has garnered a favourable reputation for his skills. Unfortunately, Stephen knows his own reputation and believes more in himself than he does in anyone or anything else.

His current campaign for Governor Mike Morris is going well. They are leading in the polls and feeling quite confident that Morris will be the Democratic presidential candidate.  Opposing campaign manager Tom Duffy (actor Kristopher West) calls Stephen and asks for a private meeting. At first, Stephen hesitates but his curiosity gets the better of him and he goes. Duffy wants Stephen to leave Morris’ campaign and work for him. Appealing to his vanity and arrogance, he is flattered but refuses. Duffy implores him to think about it and come back to him with an answer. In the meantime, Stephen engages in a fling with a young campaign intern, Molly (a standout performance by actress Meaghan Chenosky), who also happened to have a sexual encounter with Stephen’s boss, main campaign manager Paul Zara. Everything begins to unravel when Stephen tells Paul that Duffy offered him a job. Paul, noticeably hurt and now suspicious of Stephen’s motives and actions begins to distance himself. To make matters worse, somehow the media gets a hold of the story and Stephen’s strategic manoeuvres are no longer being used for the campaign but for his own political survival.

Farragut North, by playwright Beau Willimon, portrays how far ambition, power, loyalty and choice can take you in the political world.  Despite being in a smaller theatre venue, Director Nicky Alderton manages to expertly articulate this interesting tale of the choices we make when pushed to our limits. Even though it was difficult to find anything likeable about many of the characters, all of the actors brought an element of truth to their characters. For example, to the majority of us, Stephen may appear deplorable in his actions but the fact remains that people like him exist and will continue to exist.

I want to make note of the clever set design for this production. It is not only creative but also symbolic. In its complete and connected form, it is the American flag, the true symbol of national pride for almost all Americans. This “flag” could be pulled apart to create the various story settings (restaurants, hotel rooms, press stage) which were moved by the actors between scenes. To me, this felt symbolic of the strategic plans each character was employing in their attempts to make sense of their actions. Taking one piece and trying to fit it here or there in order reach their end goal despite how that end goal impacted everyone else.  Farragut North shows us the underbelly of politics and how those involved must make ethical choices each day for the good of the country, but in reality, often make those choices based on how it will personally affect them.

A great show by Blank Slate Productions.