It's inspiring to see a play smartly done and well executed.
The Road to Damascus takes place in the not-too-distant future, giving us a glimpse in to the harsh possibilities that we seem to come so close to these days. A terrorist attack outside of St. Patrick's Cathedral sets off the ire of the new third party president, and, not wanting to appear weak, he seeks retribution, deciding that Damascus (with questionable proof) is to blame.
The NSA anxiously wants to initiate bombing in Syria. However, the new pontiff has decided to use himself as a human shield in the event that the United States finds itself pulling the trigger, so to speak, in order to prevent catastrophe. U.S. diplomat, Dexter Hobhouse, is sent to the Vatican to dissuade the pope from involving himself in the situation. And so, the intrigue unfolds, impressing the audience with Tom Dulack's gripping and nattily-told tale of political intrigue.
A little inconsistent at times, especially as the play opens and old college friends, Dexter Hobhouse and Bishop Roberto Guzman, meet again after many years, and under the horrible circumstances of the bombing outside of St. Patrick's. They quickly and carelessly discuss the terror campaign, which is the raison d'être for the unfolding of the play, and they move on to warm memories of college days. It seems like taking a hot cake out of the oven without a pair of oven mitts. There are just a few moments like that, hence a few dents in this slick Jaguar, but nothing to stop you from enjoying the ride.
Michael Parva's direction is even, sharp and energizing. Larisa Polonsky as the atheist, Muslim reporter from Chechnya was particularly thoughtful; she gave an effective, nuanced performance. Joris Stuyck (Robert Guzman) was a bit stiff in his role as the pope's envoy, giving himself little room to relax into his characters strong, caring identity.
Mel Johnson Jr. was good, although he could have owned Pope Augustine's love of life, humor and character more fully. Robert Verlaque was believably determined and severe as Cardinal Medeiros, while Rufus Collins, (Dexter Hobhouse) gave a steady and convincing performance. Bree Benson was as un-nuanced and cold as you would expect a government official with single-minded goals to be.
All that being said, this suspenseful story is definitely worth going to! Kept me glued!