By Kenneth Lin
Son of Chinese immigrants, decorated vet, and a charismatic speaker, congressional candidate Julius Lee is dubbed “The Republican Obama.” But when word of a youthful indiscretion threatens scandal, he discovers the dangerous intersection of politics and idealism. In this taut, topical saga of backroom electioneering, the campaign lies ahead, the warriors are at hand, and our future’s at stake.
Sounds exciting, right?
Warrior Class kicked off Theatreworks’ 2013-14 season with political drama. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it. I mean, there’s a reason I’ve never committed to political TV shows like House of Cards (which, incidentally, the playwright wrote for) or The West Wing. Real-life politics has become such a theater and a mess that fictional spins just don’t sound entertaining. But on the other hand, Theatreworks usually does a great job casting their plays and making an otherwise unexciting story difficult to forget.
After watching the play, I’m still not sure what I think. Was it good? I dunno. The actors were talented, and really created believable people in their characters. But sometimes, the script would develop this stiffness that made it impossible to forget that the conversation was staged. It didn’t flow naturally, and the odd pauses and gaps just seemed to underline how “fake” everything was. But maybe I was the only one to hear it that way.
I was often bored, but again, I’m not sure why, other than a general apathy towards politics. Maybe the “youthful indiscretion” didn’t seem as terribly derailing to a political campaign as Julius and his campaign manager Nathan made it out to be. Julius’ ex-girlfriend believes that he stalked her after they broke up, and frightened her so much that she lost focus and never recovered. To me, her case never seemed solid. After she had been speaking to Julius and Nathan for only a few minutes, she comes across as a frustrated woman blaming Julius for her own failures so that she wouldn’t have to be responsible. But I suppose that in a highly publicized campaign, that wouldn’t come across. She seems even less of a victim when she proceeds to demand certain benefits from Julius in exchange for keeping silent.
Julius suffered from a lack of personality. It’s not the fault of actor Pun Bandhu, it’s simply that Julius isn’t written with much to say. By the end of the play, what do we know about him? He likes to eat popcorn. He was once in love with a girl and after they broke up he didn’t think his actions through. He has a wife who loses a baby and yet it does little to shape his character.
Overall, kind of a snoozer.