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Oswald by Dennis Richard: Anatomy of an Interrogation

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Possibly known to the baby boomers as the prince of all assassins, Lee Harvey Oswald's unconfessed murder of JFK was an event of such universal impact, that it might have been our first real brush with death. I don't remember many teachers, but I will never forget my first grade instructor (a tall, dignified, brunette) informing us with tears running down her face that The President was shot. We were sent home, and by the time I reached our Flushing, Queens apartment -- blubbering the news out to my mother, mommie flatly said he was not just shot but dead, with a rather bitter tone in her voice. I was such an oversensitive child, I thought she was mad at me -- but in retrospect, the world went a bit sour that day for many.

Days later, when Jack Ruby murdered Oswald on TV, the act didn't seem untoward. Not being old enough to understand due process, I simply concluded that Ruby, not being able to tolerate our president being shot by this man, had made the next logical (an eye for and eye) move.

Almost one half a century has passed, and while books and commissions have declared that the "case is closed," many people (so-called conspiracy theorists) reject the idea of the lone gunman and are looking for answers.

The thing I respect most about Dennis Richard's play, Oswald (created from the author's study of Oswald's incarceration and interrogation before he was killed by Ruby), is the fact that I did not know what the author's personal opinion of the events were, as we were left to make up our own minds. The playwright trusted his audience to come to their own conclusions, based on the information he offered up.

Most importantly, Oswald did work as a theatre piece. The inherent drama between Oswald and his interrogator (Dallas police Capitan Will Fritz -- masterfully played by lawyer-cum-actor, Jonathan Miles) stood up on it's own as drama. Miles is an audience pleaser, spectacularly entertaining with with his vocal and physical phrasing being symphonically rich and expansive. The hit all the notes.

My interest was held further, on discovering information I was not cognizant of -- mainly that there was such convincing evidence of his crimes, not only against JFK, but regarding the murder of a police officer ( J.D. Tippit), with a bountiful amount of evidence.

Directed by Richmond Shepard (also the founder and artistic director of the Richmond Shepard Theatre in NYC's Gramercy area), the timing and pace of Oswald was crisp, yet not rushed, making for our rapt attentions. All the performances were good, with Tim Intravia showing real promise in the title role. His resemblance to Lee Harvey Oswald was uncanny, and his line readings were expert. I would suggest that his performance be a bit mopier and diffident from the get go, when he appeared a bit too sane (all research shows that LHO had severe social problems stemming from childhood behavior). He appears to have it in him, as his mugging in the question and answer session at the end of the show hinted at.

I recommend this show to people of all ages, as some of us need to remember, and others need to learn about this extraordinary piece of history. As it stands now, Oswald is a simple "black box" production, but with a bit of brushing up polishing, it could have "legs."