Now that election 2016 is really here, we can … continue to talk about the latest polls and gaffes, the state by state results, the demographic breakdowns and what it all means. Seriously, even if you aren’t “that” political, by virtue of being in DC, you’re political. It’s all around us, and through osmosis, if nothing else, we soak in the major issues and themes.
In The City of Conversation, now playing at Arena Stage, the story centers on the hostess of a Georgetown salon, where political conversations really matter. Of course, it’s also about her family, particularly her relationship with her son, who in the first act, is coming into his own. And makes a statement – political, personal and eventually professional – to strike out from his mother, and ironically, to show himself to be her son.
The story gives us a window into the Georgetown salon at three critical points, as the Carter Administration is flailing (or is that failing?) and Reagan is waiting in the wings, as the culture wars peak around the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, and with the election of Obama in 2008. At each point, the political and personal intersect. The play does a good job of setting the scene, so even if you aren’t as familiar with a certain time or issue, you quickly see the broad brush strokes.
For the more politically active, some of these moments hit closer to home than others. Besides, it’s a lucky few who hasn’t had to endure a political difference with family or in-laws (noooo!) or even friends. Most of us just handle it more graciously than the Ferris family. Or maybe we just chose to bit back a smart retort and move on.
If you haven’t been to Arena Stage – and I hadn’t in probably close to a decade – you’ll enjoy the “new” building and theater, renovated about five years ago. The wall of glass windows looks gorgeous and shows off the architecture.
The theater itself, with its unique open square, makes the audience a fly on the wall of the political and personal battles in the play. The actors do a good job of moving around the set, so even if you are sitting “behind” the stage, you feel like you are part of it.
And enjoyable evening, with Conversation setting the scene for additional conversations.