Monday, March 4, 2024

Fatherland (review)

Spoilers ahoy! 

 The whole idea behind the new show at the Fountain Theatre is one of vast promise.  Conceived and directed by Stephen Sachs, and titled Fatherland, it recounts a true story using nothing but court records and public statements.  It focuses upon a Son (Patrick Keleher) who feels the need to turn in his own Father (Ron Bottitta) to the FBI for taking part in the January 6 Insurrection.  

No one needs to guess at the amount of drama inherent in this.  A fear lingered, that the play would just be a polemic, preaching to me for things I already knew or agreed with, or simply giving me some extra data regarding this bit of recent history.

But my fear of just getting a lecture proved totally unfounded.  The focus here remained utterly and precisely on the human and humane parts of this tragedy.  Imagine the personal devastation of such a thing.  We're not talking about someone who belonged to the KKK, promoting conspiracy theories 24/7, and/or taking his family to some kind of survivalist cult camp flying a red, white, and blue swastika.  Just as that stereotype does not fit the vast majority of those screaming "Stop The Steal" and treating a con-man who inherited millions as some kind of messiah/genius.  

No, this man and his son (the performances are nothing less than stellar) are people who reacted to a downturn in their lives with very different ways.  We see the human trajectory take place, to mutually tragic ends as each hold on to a world view that makes demands on them.  Each meet those demands--and it rips both of them open, down to the bone and soul.  We see the love they have for each other, even as things spiral beyond any point of no return.  

Except, "no return" does not mean eternal schism, does not preclude healing and forgiveness.  What happens on stage proves genuinely horrible, recreated unflinchingly by the entire cast including those playing the US Attorney (Anna Khaja) prosecuting the case against the Father, and the Defense Attorney (Larry Poindexter) who deftly does his duty to defend his client by emotionally eviscerating the man's Son on the witness stand.  Yet, again, in the end we don't see anyone as a monster.  Everyone does their duty as they see it.  The play has a point of view, one with which I personally heartily agree, but instead of hammer those ideas into our heads, instead it invites us to feel the wounds as every person on stage hurts someone else.  Because they have to.  

Fatherland is currently scheduled to play Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm until March 30, 2024.  However, I spoke to members of the amazing cast and learned the show will almost certainly be extended.  Note:  It has been extended, to May 26, 2024!  Performances take place at the Fountain Theatre at 5060 Fountain Ave. (at Normandie)  Los Angeles CA 90029

No comments:

Post a Comment