by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Et tu, Lyndon?

gia on the move theatre reviews
(R to L) Tony Abatemarco, Bruce Nehlson and Time Winters

“Are you ready for this?” is the question audiences should ask themselves before stepping into the conspiracy-theory world of writer/director Daniel Henning (Blank Theatre) and…William Shakespeare.

The Tragedy of JFK (as told by Wm. Shakespeare) conceived, adapted and directed by Henning, is not ordinary. It is not the Camelot story the public has fantasized about, decade after decade. It is a penetrating, amalgamation of hard-core Julius Caesar and recognizably other Shakespeare plays freshly whipped with clearly defined, present-moment, modern dialog.

So powerful is the orchestration of the language within the script and articulated by the cast, that its resonance defies current propaganda and theory of Shakespearean renovation. For here is an exactitude of writing, meaning and enunciation of the spoken word far beyond pablum. It is simply impossible NOT to hear or understand a single phrase of the text or a single moment of this production!

LBJ. What means this shouting? I do fear the people
Choose Kennedy for their King.
Hoov.                                        Ay, do you fear it?
Then must I think you would not have it so.
LBJ. I would not. Edgar; yet I love him well.

The Tragedy of JFK as told by WM. Shakespeare
Brett Collier (L) and the cast of The Blank Theatre’s world premiere production of The Tragedy of JFK (as told by WM. Shakespeare) at The Skylight Theatre

The Tragedy of JFK (as told by Wm. Shakespeare) is the what-might-have-happened tale of the conspiracy to assassinate the 35th President of the United States, one of the most shocking events in American history.

As an insider conversation, it is full of closed-door colloquy & subversion, and public bravado, keenly speculating into the hearts and minds of 17 familiar historical participants who played a role in the trifecta assassinations of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Francis Kennedy.

A stellar cast, almost uncanny in physical appearance and behavior symphonize the intrigue of conversations, planning and warning, starting with crack character actors Tony Abatemarco (J. Edgar Hoover), Ford Austin (John F. Kennedy), Chad Brannon (Robert F. Kennedy), Brett Collier (Martin Luther King Jr.) and Time Winters (Lyndon B. Johnson).  Every actor bears a notable, transporting familiarity. And all the cast performances are so fine in this production it begs pause to collect ones breath.

The rest of the cast includes: Chris D’Annunzio (Clyde Todson/Clint Murchison), Casey MicKinnon (Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy), Susan Denaker (Lady Bird Johnson), Kelie McIver (Evelyn Lincoln), Bruce Nehlsen (Allen Dulles), Jacob Sidney (McGeorge Bundy), Jerry Della Salla (Carlos Marcello/Jack Valenti), Jonny Walker (Gov. John Connally), Brian Brennan (Lee Harvey Oswald), Roslyn Cohn (Aide/Pollster), John Knight (Aide/Pollster). ***And alternate cast may appear without notice.

Daniel Henning has produced a powerful and 100% immersive script that is worthy of its talent.

Photo (above): Chad Brannon (at coffin) and the cast of The Blank Theatre’s world premiere production of The Tragedy of JFK (as told by WM. Shakespeare at the Skylight Theatre