Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review of Fail/Safe at Strawdog Theatre Company

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Fail/Safe. It was based on the novel by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler and it was adapted by Nikki Klix and Anderson Lawfer. (Awww.) It was directed by Anderson Lawfer. It was about a bomb that was going toward Moscow and the president (Tom Hickey) said that he would sacrifice New York if it actually hit Moscow. And everyone had to make a decision about how they would get the bomb down so they wouldn't have to sacrifice New York. It took place in three different places, but all of the characters and places were in the same space. So they didn't have to do set changes or anything; they just brought up the lights on a different part of the stage (scenic design by Mike Mroch). I thought that was really awesome how you got to see what every character's reaction was to the same story. Like the Professor (Brian Amidei) thought they should go straight to war and have a controlled war but at the same time you are seeing Buck be like, "I hope that there is no war of any kind." I thought this show was very intense and nerve wracking and fun because you had no idea what was going to happen next. At the beginning everything is like hoppity-do, everything is great, and then it turns into this giant potential nuclear disaster. I think that people should definitely go and see this show. I had a lot of fun!

The president and his translator Buck were in a bunker because they think there was about to be a war and they don't want the president to be killed. Then they are trying to compromise with Moscow so they won't start throwing bombs at America. What I thought was cool was that you usually expect the president to be in the biggest and fanciest space possible, but he was actually in the most unlively, cramped place you can think of. Sometimes with a very suspenseful play you go too overboard with something, but with this I think the president and Buck seemed calm enough that they could do what they had to do, but scared enough that they didn't seem crazy. I thought the president was very well portrayed because even though he had a lot of power he didn't seem selfish. When you were seeing if he would drop the bombs on New York, that was very suspenseful!

The Nerve Center is where everything starts, where the entire nuclear war might start because they have this new technology and they are showing it to Congressman Raskob (Joe Mack) and an engineer named Knapp (Lee Russell) but then they see that there is a plane coming to the U.S. that might have a bomb and nobody knows what it is. I thought that Colonel Cascio (Stuart Ritter) and General Bogan (Mark Pracht) are two of the most complicated characters in the show because they feel like the Colonel has to obey the General on everything that he says but then he tries to go against him. Then he gets into trouble for that, also because he happened to hit his boss's face with a phone. Their job is to obey even if they think it would kill everyone in the world. I don't think that is a good way to treat people, to make them obey everything you say even if it will hurt people. They make those rules because they think it will be better to have someone who is older and more experienced telling everyone what to do. I think General Bogan was right in this case because it would be better to lose 5 lives than losing like 5,000.

A lot of funny and sad stuff happened in the Pentagon. Everyone had a different view of things. Sometimes their opinions were so crazy that you could hardly believe them. But sometimes the people had ideas that were so great, you just wished the people would believe them. The professor's idea that you have a war that can be controlled on both sides sounded impossible, because you don't know what your enemy is going to do next. But the professor's craziest and horriblest idea was to just kill everybody in Moscow. The idea that I thought was great was the one to try to get the bomb back in any way possible and Brigadier General Black (Carmine Grisolia) has that idea. Black is basically the good guy in the story. He tries to follow orders even though they require him to hurt people because he knows if there is a war it would last for a very long time. I thought that General Stark (Dave Skvarla) was really funny because he said this hilarious line about the professor which was something along the lines of, "When will the university pay to cut your hair." I just loved the expressions that came over both their faces.

People who would like this show are people who like suspense, old-timey computers, and haircuts. I really liked this show. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I think this show should be for ages 9 and up because it is very sad, but I think people who know more about what war is actually like and don't think of it as a game would be able to handle it. I think people should definitely go and see this show. I loved it!

Photos: Tom McGrath

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