Politically speaking… what would it take for each of us to stop fearing and suspecting “the other side” and instead take a few steps towards the middle? If we listened to those who think unlike us… would they eventually sound less like monsters? Those are some of the questions considered in THE ORIGINALIST, now playing at The Pasadena Playhouse until May 7. THE ORIGINALIST was written by John Strand and is directed at the Playhouse by Molly Smith.
In THE ORIGINALIST, a bright, liberal law school graduate becomes a clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the most polarizing Supreme Court Justices of all times. Both are passionate about their political stands, and they are unafraid to debate.
Edward Gero reprises his role as Scalia. He is superb at delivering his eloquent lines, often served with a dose of sharp wit. Gero physically resembles the late Justice, plus he obviously studied his speaking rhythm and mannerisms. The result is impressive. Jade Wheeler is Cat, the intelligent and bold liberal clerk that both learns from, and teaches a thing or two, to Scalia. Brett Mack is Brad, a young conservative lawyer.
Words are most important in THE ORIGINALIST. The set is simple; few props are moved around and your imagination provides the rest, but the discourse, from both sides, is remarkable. It’s an hour-and-a-half of intelligent writing accompanied by gorgeous classical music selections.
On opening night, the audience became vested in the discussion, at times even agreeing and disagreeing with it out loud. That’s because every subject touched by THE ORIGINALIST is one that currently polarizes our nation, so the characters’ conversation is (or should be) of keen interest to us all. Most importantly, by the end of the play the characters are not seen as bullying forces from the left or the right, but as humans, with reasons to believe as they do and with similar goals. They’re still standing in opposite corners, yet neither one a monster. Quite the intelligent play, THE ORIGINALIST is very much recommended.
The Pasadena Playhouse is located at 39 South El Molino Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101. Performance schedule is Tuesday to Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Tickets range from $25 – $80 with premiere seats at $115. Tickets are available online at PasadenaPlayhouse.org, by phone at 626-356-7529 or at The Pasadena Playhouse Box Office (39 South El Molino Avenue).
Additionally, The Playhouse has partnered with community experts and related organizations to host conversations after every performance to encourage civic discourse and open dialogue.
Photo: (L-R) Brett Mack, playwright John Strand, Jade Wheeler, and Edward Gero in The Originalist at The Pasadena Playhouse. // Dena Burroughs photo
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