BWW Reviews: In 86 minutes, SUNNY AFTERNOON Presents Thought-Provoking Storytelling at its Best
Those of us who were alive on November 22, 1963, will never forgot where we were when Kennedy was shot. In the days that followed, we were glued to our television screens watching with devastated hearts as the tragedy played out live in our homes. And if, like me, you were watching at the exact moment that Lee Harvey Oswald was shot, then you too certainly felt as if the rug had just been pulled out from beneath the American people.
But who was Lee Harvey Oswald and could he really have acted alone? Or was he just the sacrificial lamb needed to make sure the cover-up stayed in place as to who really shot JFK? The puzzles have been in place for almost 50 years with no one seemingly able to give a definitive answer on anything.
Author and director Christian Levatino brilliantly took on the challenge of answering these questions in his original play based on the forty-eight hours Lee Harvey Oswald was in the custody of Dallas Homicide Captain William J. Fritz. In 86 minutes, SUNNY AFTERNOON presents thought-provoking storytelling at its best with a cast that could not be any more perfect in their characterizations of every person to be in Oswald's presence from the moment he was arrested until he was murdered. The play is bold, meticulous in detail, flooded with character, and challenging in every respect.
Brett Fleisher embodies Lee Harvey Oswald as a Coca-Cola loving, hotheaded young man who absolutely refuses to admit he shot JFK. In fact, he seems almost too simple-minded to have been able to carry it off by himself. And the more evidence that is brought in, the more he seems to be telling the truth about his innocence. Or is he really incredibly smart and playing out his life with the cards he has been dealt?
Darrett Sanders plays Captain William Fritz as a Southern cigar-chomping, good-old-boy more interested in football than the dilemma he finds himself in that day. He argues to keep the trial in Dallas where the crime was committed but soon is convinced it is a federal case that has to be tried in a Federal court. And once he turns over all the evidence to the Feds, it disappears in transit. So will we ever know what really was found out during those two days? And who wanted to keep it quiet and why?
All of the actors deserve much praise for their dedication to the authenticity of the play as a whole. In order of appearance: David Lautman (Detective Elmer T. Boyd), Michael McGill (Detective Richard "Dick" Simms), Juan Perez (FBI Agent James Hosty), Carlo La Tempa (FBI Agent James Bookout), Donnie Smith (Secret Service Agent Forrest Sorrels), DieteRich Gray (Assistant D.A. William "Bill" Alexander), Jim Boelsen (Police Chief Jesse Curry), Tim Hooper (D.A. Henry Wade), Mancini Graves (Clarence), Corryn Cummins (Postal Inspector H.D. Holmes), and Christian Levatino (Visitor).
In speaking with Lavatino after the performance, he said that much of the play's dialogue is taken word-for-word from transcripts. I admitted that after experiencing being inside the Dallas Police Station and hearing as well as seeing what may have really gone on, I am now more convinced than ever that Oswald knew he would be sacrificed as the scapegoat to keep the cover up in place. I encourage you to see the play and make your mind up for yourself.
Gangbusters Theatre is more than living up to its name with this world premiere, and I hope Lavatno's plan to present it in November 2013 during the 50th anniversary of the real-life events comes to pass. I will certainly see it again and be on The Edge of my seat, paying close attention to every gripping detail with a more open mind to the truth.
SUNNY AFTERNOON - Written and Directed by Christian Levatino, Produced by Corryn Cummins, Leon Shanglebee, Matt Mann, and Mancini Graves for Gangbusters Theatre. Presented during the Hollywood Fringe Festival at the Complex Theatre, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90038.
Friday June 28 2013, 8:00 PM
Saturday June 29 2013, 8:00 PM
Tickets are $15 at http://hff13.org/1223
Jim Boelsen, Brett Fleisher and David Lautman.
Darrett Sanders as Police Captain William J. Fritz
Tim Hooper as D.A. Henry Wade and Jim Boelsen as Police Chief Jesse Curry
Chris Bouffard as Detective Simms, Juan Perez as FBI Agent James Hosty, Carlo La Tempa as FBI Agent James Bookout, Brett Fleisher as Lee Harvey Oswald and David Lautman as Detective Elmer T. Boyd.
Juan Perez and Brett Fleisher