nytheatre.com review by Jocelyn Szabo
August 15, 2004
Rome. What an auspicious title. Well, Rome lives up to its title and then some. Herman Daniel Farrell III has beautifully written and directed this modern political drama, in which two couples come together during the 2000 Florida recount. If it were not for a chance encounter on September 11th, the two couples would never see each other again. Ultimately they end up deeply embroiled in a political and personal custody battle over a child who is conceived during that chance encounter.
Farrell brilliantly uses these two couples and their circumstances as a means to question whether or not it is possible to reconcile irreconcilable differences; and if it is, then by what means—force, reason, or love. Farrell explores each as an option. At one point, Whit, who is by far the most right-winged of the four, is actually slapped by the mother of his child, then punched by her boyfriend, and finally kicked by his own wife as he writhes on the floor in pain. Does he deserve this? Perhaps, but finally, it is love that brings each character to a common place—to a place where they are able to reconcile their differences, personally and politically.
Whit’s inability to share a cookie, even when there is none for others, becomes more than a minor character flaw when he also refuses to share custody of his child. Through the baby’s mother, Jesse, he eventually comes to realize that sometimes living for love is better than retaining honor and so finally there is a defenselessness to him and a sense of hope for his character—and perhaps the world. Maybe Farrell is telling us that through love we may find peace—within ourselves and with each other.
The entire cast is extremely impressive. Of course, they have wonderful roles to play, but John Daggett, Alice Haining, Derek Lucci, Laura Marks, and Joseph Urla do a tremendous job of fully embodying their characters, successfully making them into more than representatives of particular political viewpoints. Lucci, in particular, is stunning. Though his character is arguably the most despicable, he still manages to make Whit human. His adamant beliefs and his confidence give him a vulnerability the others never achieve.
One of my only gripes with this fantastic play concerns the Chorus, played by Derek Du-Ane. As an audience member I am well aware that he is playing several parts (which he did very well); there is no need for him to wear a mask throughout most of the play. It is distracting and mildly alarming.
But that's a mere quibble. Congratulations to all involved on a fabulous job well done!