Saturday, November 15, 2008
From the moment Stephen (John Gallagher, Jr.) appears onstage as a successful, 25-year-old press secretary who somehow still has morals, it's obvious that Beau Willimon can't wait to knock him down in Farragut North. Willimon plays politics in the same backrooms as Aaron Sorkin, but rather than pace around, he internalizes the gears, taking the focus off the Democratic primary in Iowa and putting the emphasis on what's underneath all off Stephen's gloss and spin. The result is rather Machiavellian: his enemy, Tom (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) undoes him with kindness; his friend, Paul (Chris Noth) undoes him with contempt; his lover, Molly (Oliva Thirlby) undoes him with compassion; and he completes the destruction with his own arrogance. Director Doug Hughes is accustomed to dealing with characters having a crisis of faith, as well as with addressing monsters who come clad in good deeds, which results in a well-oiled production that also manages to dip below the surface of politics.