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Review: THE PRICE OF POWER at Abbey Theater Of Dublin

Review: THE PRICE OF POWER at Abbey Theater Of Dublin

Perfect casting, acting sets stage for locally penned play

As the director of THE PRICE OF POWER, Abbey Theater of Dublin director Joe Bishara is up against an interesting challenge. How does one present a show about John F. Kennedy, one of the most famous faces in the history of American politics?

Patrick Dempsey (JFK: Reckless Youth), William Devane (The Missiles of October), Michael C. Hall (The Crown), Greg Kinnear (The Kennedys), Rob Lowe (Killing Kennedy), Tim Matheson (Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis), William Peterson (The Rat Pack), Cliff Robertson (PT 109), and Martin Sheen (Kennedy) all have taken their shot at playing the 35th president of the United States. A few of those actors delivered. A few made Kennedy seem more like a live action facsimile of Springfield mayor "Diamond" Joe Quimby from the television show The Simpsons than the doomed president himself.

Place a checkmark beside the name of Ralph Edward Scott, who plays Kennedy in THE PRICE OF POWER, in the "ones who delivered" category. Scott, who can currently be seen in the Amazon Prime movies ADELINE and DOUBLE WALKER, portrays Kennedy as a powerful presence with a flawed personality.

Written by former Ohio Supreme Court justice Herb Brown, THE PRICE OF POWER interprets a struggle for positioning between the recently elected President and J. Edgar Hoover (Jonathan Putnam), who ran the FBI for 25 years before Kennedy was elected and wants to keep control of that office long after Kennedy is gone.

Kennedy has the power of imposing a mandatory retirement clause on Hoover, who turned 65 when Kennedy was elected. However, Hoover is intimately familiar with indiscretions committed by Joseph Kennedy (JFK's father) and the president himself. Many of those scandals could bring about an impeachment of Kennedy. Kennedy knows it would be political suicide to oust Hoover because of the files the FBI director keeps on himself and his family.

Scott's Kennedy is as ruthless as he is reckless. He's not above selling out his brother Bobby (Bill Darby), pushing him aside from a vice president spot to attorney general to keep a set of eyes on Hoover.

While he stealthy slanders the FBI director in the quiet backrooms of the White House, Kennedy is painfully aware of what Hoover's files on him could do to his presidency, his legacy, and his family.

Putnam is familiar with playing the paranoid. Prior to playing Hoover, he played Richard Nixon in CATCO's production of THE FINAL TABLE. The veteran actor develops some of Hoover's idiosyncrasies and inconsistencies. Putnam captures the essence of the FBI director's legendary germaphobia when he panics after a fly invades his home. Putnam's Hoover spouts out his bigotry against homosexuals while raising Kennedy's eyebrows about Hoover's own relationship with Tolson. Early on in the play, Putnam encapsulates Hoover's alleged self-loathing as he flinches uncomfortably when Tolson rubs his shoulders.

Rounding out the talent is Darby and Holliday. Darby emulates the younger Kennedy's Bostonian intonations flawlessly and is strong as the president's younger brother who is charged with the thankless task of keeping his brother's sins under wraps and keeping the president one step ahead of Hoover. As Tolson, Holliday gives the audience a peak at the man in the shadows who keeps Hoover in control of the FBI.

In the two-act, nearly two-hour play, Bishara could have kept the audience from seeing a historical view of these four gentlemen. Instead, he invites comparison with a multimedia show that involves news footage, snippets of speeches, and slides of the real-life people being portrayed on stage.

In the 1988 vice presidential debate, candidate Lloyd Bentson provided the ultimate squelch to Dan Quayle with the zinger: "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

The same can't be said of the actors' portrayals in THE PRICE OF POWER.

PRICE OF POWER runs Jan. 13-21 at the Abbey Theater of Dublin (5600 Post Road in Dublin, Ohio).



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What did our critic think of THE PRICE OF POWER at Abbey Theater Of Dublin? As the director of THE PRICE OF POWER, Abbey Theater of Dublin director Joe Bishara is up against an interesting challenge. How does one present a show about John F. Kennedy, one of the most famous faces in the history of American politics?

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