Empty Seats, Empty Suits

History is like a lead weight in deep water — in two different productions

For Dirty Business, Florida Stage has pulled together a typically competent cast of local regulars and imports. Import James Lloyd Reynolds is a passable Kennedy — impassive, jealous, a façade of grace and competence perfectly obscuring a bottomless well of inchoate desire. But it's not a showcase role. Kennedy was too much a cipher.

So is this version of Frank Sinatra, played by Jack Gwaltney like a dumb mook. None of Sinatra's native intelligence — so obviously on display, in that era, in Sinatra's role in The Manchurian Candidate — comes through on Gwaltney's face, which is a mess of uncomprehending anxiety.

I've never seen Gordon McConnell do a Mafioso before, but he's perfect: charming, kindly, and dangerously unstable. You never quite trust his grin, and by the time he bites a chunk out of Judy's ass as a way of getting a message to the Prez, you look forward to leaving the theater and getting as far from the dude as possible.

Dirty Business: Jack and Sam, sharing Judy
Dirty Business: Jack and Sam, sharing Judy

Details

Still The River Runs By Barton Bishop. Directed by Margaret Ledford With Mark Duncan and Scott Genn, through November 2nd at The Black Box Theatre at Nova Southeastern University. Call 786-317-7580 or visit www.theprometheantheatre.org.Dirty Business By William Mastrosimone. Directed by Louis Tyrell. With Elizabeth A. Davis, Jack Gwaltney, Dan Leonard, Gordon McConnell and James Lloyd Reynolds. Through November 30th at Florida Stage. Call 561-585-3433 or visit www.floridastage.org.

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Good as McConnell is, the real draw here has to do with seeing the sacred cow that is Kennedy dragged off to yet another well-deserved slaughter. And it's more than that: in a weird way, it feels good to be reminded of what a vicious, dishonest little racket politics have always been. Dirty Business is yet another reason to hope, in these decisive days, that the very near future will see politics transformed into something else, and better.

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