“RFK” – Play Review


In the regional premiere of “RFK”, a riveting political drama unfolds that encompasses political life and decisions of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and focuses on struggles and challenges associated with social justice, civil rights, poverty, discrimination, and organized crime.  As Robert Kennedy (David Arrow) recounts and reenacts events from his own journey into politics, and his grief and loss at losing his brother, the audience is guided to take a memory walk into the events and incidences that inspired people to become involved and make their voice count.  


These committed individuals helped shape societal norms that would influence future generations. Incidences of Cesar Chavez’s championing of workers’ rights (http://bit.ly/1lyL2O4),  polarization over Vietnam war (http://bit.ly/1qFIL28), and country’s mourning and grief over the assassinations of President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, all shaped this country and are focused upon in the play. RFK deeply grieved over the loss of his brother, President John F. Kennedy and then translated his loss into a resolve to shape the future.  He says,
“tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live”. 

Staging my Margaret Kayes is simple and effective.  David Arrow as Robert F. Kennedy, gives an impeccable performance in this production, directed by The Stage’s super talented, Randall King.  “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation”, says RFK.  The heroic acts of many, during the 60s, left a powerful imprint that will forever guide and influence what was to come.

However, it is not just the heroism of those living in the “interesting times” that shapes history. It is also in the powerful retelling of history (kudos to playwright, Jack Holmes) that the present and future are further shaped and influenced.  Arrow does a phenomenal recounting of the events that portrays RFK as a genuine human being, replete with his personal pet peeves and his biases, his humor, his deep grief at the loss of his brother, and his political ambivalence and ambitions.

You won’t want to miss this piece of history, marvelously re-created at www.thestage.org .  Perhaps there might even be a lesson or two for our current struggles with race, income divide, poverty, equality and political polarization.  This a not-to-miss play of this theater season, in the bay area and will be running at San Jose Stage till October 25, 2015.

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