Political aspirations may originate in idealism, but at its core, politics is a bloody sport. At the heart of the crafty tale of political maneuverings and machinations in nationally known playwright Kenneth Lin’s “Warrior Class”, is Julius Lee, son of Chinese immigrants, running for Congress, as the Republican Obama. He is a practicing Christian, a decorated marine with Harvard Law Review credentials, and his inspiring speech has created a huge sensation and gotten the party excited. Young, charismatic, and highly marketable as Lee is, “Nobody’s as clean as they want to be”, says his campaign consultant, Nathan Berkshire. Very soon they discover a small “skeleton in the closet”, in the form of Lee’s ex girl friend, Holly Eames, who claims that Lee stalked her and her family when they ended the relationship. Berkshire is ready for the challenge. He says, “you can’t play the game, if you don’t play the game.
Pun Bandhu’s performance as Julius Lee is superb and flawless. Robert Sicular in the role of Nathan Berkshire and Delia MacDougall as Holly Eames also give fantastic performance that lend authenticity and make the story of bizarre political motivations, believable. Director Leslie Martinson has done a fantastic job and stage design by Erik Flatmo is superb. Secret meetings take place at a restaurant in Baltimore, over soda and burgers, with Eames. Berkshire and Lee meet at Lee’s trendy New York apartment to discuss the political alliances Lee should enter into and whether that decision should be based on his idealism or the opportunity it will afford the young candidate and to discuss the Eames issue. Is Eames telling the truth or is she simply an opportunistic ex-girl friend, suffering from anxiety and dealing with a troubled marriage with a spouse having an affair? Is Berkshire able to persuade Eames to remain reticent about her previous experiences or scare her by ferreting out her own secrets? Or is her silence bought with a cost and how would that entangle the new candidate in a web of crafty maneuverings?
“Warrior Class” offers an opportunity for soul searching at a national level. Jesus said, “only step forward and cast the first stone, if you have not sinned”. But in politics, in the search for an ideal candidate, casting stones for all major and minor infractions of the candidate, is a game, freely engaged by all. Does everyone have skeletons in the closet? How far should they go to keep them there? Does any candidate have a chance if they don’t play the game? Indeed, a primary question posed in the play is, how does politics change a person, as it becomes apparent that as one plays the game and becomes bloody, one learns to play it better, more offensively, and with greater paranoia.
The play is running at www.theatreworks.org till November 3, 2013.