By Marcina Zaccaria
It could be just the confetti or posters of adoration, but there’s something absolutely electric about Bobby Kennedy.
Leading Actor David Arrow meets the demands of his one-person show Kennedy: Bobby’s Last Crusade with fervor and delicacy. Speech after speech, he takes the stage, bringing to light what everyone loved about the sixties. It was the struggle to create equality in America. It was the pure idealism, so easily found in a less complicated world.
David Arrow originally played Kennedy in San Jose Stage Company’s production of RFK. He’s captured Kennedy in speech tone, from his reticence at the end of a phrase to his entirely credible accent. He bounds across the stage, jumping on boxes and stepping up on chairs. For Bobby’s Last Crusade, his script is plain, but feels alarmingly accurate. The youthful energy of Kennedy is mixed with the determination, and there is an essential way that he must get his message through. Those who grew up with a hero worship of the incredible myth of the man might love every suave gesture and familiar phrase.
Director Eric Nightengale really keeps the drama moving. Placed within a blue frame constructed by Scenic Designer James Morgan, the show is a lesson in perspective. Each city in typewritten letters flashes behind Kennedy, and photos in Black and White of the people greeting him are set in the background. Post-it like video images, with phrases like “Bobby is Groovy,” show on the screens to either side of him.
Sound design by Ben Scheff echoes. The surround sometimes seems to be too much for the celebrity politician. It’s disorienting, differently than a shot in the dark, or long walk through the basement, past the kitchen, on the way to the next big event. The frightening, tragic events of the sixties, wind themselves through the drama, creating a multi-dimensional world that we can access. Speech after speech, Kennedy’s dynamic energy is fueled by his mission to raise togetherness to create a great United States. Each moment of 1968 is recounted, and when Bobby’s attendance of Martin Luther King’s funeral is mentioned, the surreal, changing landscape is acknowledged, without being precious or inconsequential.
What has been risked for ideals to flourish in America? To ask all of this at the 50th Anniversary of Bobby Kennedy’s fatal evening at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles is to essentially question the danger of idealism. David Arrow’s strength is his dedication to authenticity. His clear intent not to gloss over the deeper issues surrounding Kennedy’s 1968 campaign makes viewing this political journey so very special.
Kennedy: Bobby’s Last Crusade is playing at Theatre at St. Clement’s, located at 423 West 46th Street in NYC
Thru December 9, 2018