by Marcina Zaccaria
The interrogation: does a Mayoral candidate, perfectly dressed, have blood on her hands? Politics can be a dirty business. When so many parties are involved, a mayoral race proves to be fatal in Mesquite, NV.
The play, by Leegrid Stevens, is like a mystery based on real life events. Battling it out during Council Meetings, political officials and townspeople debate about the water bill, golf, and all aspects of local government. It’s a $90 travel voucher, though, that becomes the decisive issue causing two women to break down, and one to be involved in a murder/ suicide scene.
Jennifer Varbalow has designed a perfect set, with a map of Mesquite, Nevada in the background. It’s a visual with the roads, waterways, and local restaurants where the drama happens. The special houses light up, one by one. The construct is fascinating. It lets the audience pull back, and look from a distance at the events that took place from January – April 2011.
The production uses an unusual convention of cut-outs. In their speeches and meetings in diners, the main characters are always being examined. This older cast braves through each moment. Seeing the play in two dimensions and three dimensions allows the audience to consider perspective. As New Yorkers – calculating and slick – we can step back and see these political candidates dodge and face the issues. The bungle in Mesquite is perceived in real time with the news media. Messages on a computer chat board creates a kind of despair in Anna Albright. To compound matters, live reports from the local journalist create a pressure-filled container where the issues become explosive.
Liz Amberly brilliantly portrays Linda Hadley, a powerful divorcee with heart and fervor. She is counter to Jackie Jenkins as Anna Albright, the depressed, honest candidate who endures the greatest tragedy. Albright appears calm and resolute, before eventually bringing a gun to a meeting. Robert Meksin is well-spoken and sincere as Bill Hadley and Herman Boatwright. Michael Gnat is steadfast as Henry Albright and Cliff Buckner.
Playwright Leegrid Stevens interviewed actual people in Mesquite, NV. The dialogue is lengthy, with layers of understanding within each scene. If it was a “real-ness” he was searching for, he has succeeded. Director Thomas Coté makes moments of realization honest and clear. He also keeps the production clipping along at a great pace. Though it was “showy,” in a traditional musical theater way, the plays never loses its truth.
Mesquite, NV is playing until October 28 at The Workshop Theater, located at
312 West 36th Street, 4th floor East.