note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Beverly Creasey
Theatre on Fire keeps its cutting edge razor sharp with Harold Pinter’s searing ONE FOR THE ROAD (thru Nov. 22nd). Written well before Bush and Cheney’s mauling of our constitution, Pinter’s chilling repudiation of torture as a political means bounces off the walls of the Charlestown Working Theatre with resonance to spare.
The opening one-act, Edward Albee’s THE AMERICAN DREAM is a curiosity, notable for being the first of his famous volleys aimed at his despised adoptive parents. Mommy and Daddy (Christine Power and Steve Turner) are insipid hypocrites who threaten Grandma with a nursing home as they await the arrival of their buff, new “bumble of joy.” Ann Carpenter gives a hilarious, gleefully naughty performance as the bean-spilling old lady. But it’s the second play of the evening which really hits home.
Director Darren Evans brings each architectural element (elegantly appointed set, soaring celestial music) to bear on Pinter’s oh-so-“civilized” embrace of evil. Jeff Gill gives a tour de force performance as the sole arbiter of patriotism, the bureaucrat whose hands are never sullied while he has others to carry out his orders. Craig Houk paints a powerful portrait of sheer terror, as the object of Gill’s ruthless machinations. Without even speaking, he conveys the extent of the horror we never see---and can only imagine. Kelly Rauch, too, makes our blood run cold as Houk’s battered and bruised wife---and Khane Grant, in his professional stage debut, as their young son, masterfully nails Pinter’s message, that no one is safe from political tyranny.