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LA Theater Review
State of the Union
Director Anita Khanzadian expertly helms this smart and crisp revival, pulling out all the stops in creating a very specific, stylish world: Joel Daavid's set design cleverly frames the small playing area with an almost modern touch; Derrick McDaniel's lighting does the job beautifully; Meagan Evers' period costumes are just plain gorgeous. The performers inhabiting that world bring it to life with honesty, humor, and flair. Don Fisher is smooth and grounded as Grant Matthews, the would-be president with ideas of his own, and spunky stunner D.J. Harner (alternating with Caryn West) is delightful as his estranged wife–turned–political partner. But no political couple is complete without an entourage. As Matthews' advisors, James Gleason, James Calvert, and Tracy Powell deliver.
It's a large cast full of fun performances, and Khanzadian's clean staging and attention to detail pays off. Discussions of backroom dealings, the atomic bomb, mob bosses, and media manipulation are nicely tempered with room-service deliveries and cocktail requests; layers of duplicity are revealed in snappy banter. But while fascinating, "State of the Union" doesn't hit today's audiences particularly hard or make us at all uncomfortable—which may not be quite enough to get some of us through the three-act play's three-plus hour running time. However, we can certainly appreciate the timely reminder: Is there always a choice between votes and justice?
Presented by Interact Theatre Company at the NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Sep. 24-Oct. 31. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. (877) 369-9112. www.interactla.org.
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