Where were you when John F. Kennedy was assassinated? That is the theme of Robert Patrick’s “Kennedy’s Children”, the season opener for Promethean Theatre Ensemble. The year is 1974, Valentine’s Day, and all the action takes place in a seedy bar in New York. Each of the patrons of this bar has his or her own history and each manages to tell us their story. None of these people is related to each other in any way and in fact, it is as if each one is alone in the bar and the only thing that weaves them together ( besides the drinking they do) is that they all can relate to the Kennedy era, the days of Camelot and what happened to them after that historical day in Dallas. Director Terry McCabe takes us on a journey that he refers to as ten years into the “plague”. Why the “plague”? Because the story was never finished to the complete satisfaction of many. We will probably never feel that justice was truly served as the alleged killer was shot down before any answers could be found. “Kennedy’s Children” are those who feel that there may have been more to what really happened. That perhaps there was a plot and that Oswald did not act alone and that Ruby killed him to keep the truth from being found. The urban bar set by Roger Wykes works well and is quite realistic. Julia Fornek’s lighting design was what one might expect a dingy, seedy bar to look like and Angela Campos did a great job with props ( there are lots of hand props in this one).
The 1960’s were a time of hope; a time for change and each of the characters in this play have a story. As the play opens, bartender ( Michael P. Greenlief Jr. in a role that does very little except keep the drinks pouring) turns on the jukebox so we get to hear some of the music of the times. One patron is already in the bar,Wanda ( Shawna Tucker ,who enters from what might be the ladies room area) and takes her seat and another beer. As she pours through her papers , she recounts where she was on that fateful day and how her life was changed. Enter Sparger, an actor, of sorts ( a very high camp performance by Tom Weber) who recalls his early days and some of what happened to him. While he is dynamic, there is some confusion in that part of his scenes include a non-existent person.
Rona ( Anne Korajczyk) is the activist, druggie,Hippie who lived the wild life with her boyfriend,now husband and spends most of her time, alone, drinking and recalling the past when her life was better. Mark ( Nick Lake) is the mysterious GI, who has a diary and letters to his mother recalling Viet Nam as he downs beer after beer. He has done deeds that he should be sorry for, but because no one really knows why this war ever took place, he regrets nothing he has done. Carla ( the glamorous Devon Candura) is the Marilyn Monroe wannabe, who felt that just being beautiful would be enought to make her a star ( the second coming, so to speak) but found the casting couch not enough and ended up becoming a call girl and then a pole dancer. She is in the bar tonight, Valentine’s Day to wash away her sorrows and some pills she has just taken.
This is a sad story about how one rifle changed the course of history, not just for these characters, but for our country and many of us still think back to those glory days with fond memories. Kennedy was to the 60’s what many had hoped Obama might be to us now. Kennedy never got to do all that he was meant to do and to many their futures were changed by that fateful bullet. This is a roughly 90 minutes with an intermission and I for one would have enjoyed it more hadthere been no break in the action. It is a fairly deep story and by offering a break, each audeince member has to refocus and get back into where we were. 90 minutes straight through would have made it a far better experience.
“Kennedy’s Children” will continue at City Lit Theater located at 1020 W. Bryn Mawr through December 5th with performances as follows:
Thursday,Friday and saturday evenings at 8 p.m., Sundasy at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $20 and can be ordered by telephone 1-800-838-3006 or online at www.prometheantheatre.org
The theater is easy to reach by public transportation- parking is not easy, but there are some metered spaces. I suggest the Sheridan or Broadway bus or even the Red Line ( get off at Bryn Mawr and walk east one city block)