When I interviewed Chris Pine a few months back at a Greek restaurant in L.A. we were there to talk about his movie “Star Trek” but he was just as interested in discussing my brief but memorable time as a campaign-trail reporter during the the 2000 presidential race. The reason was Pine was then in deep preparation for a starring role in the stage production “Farragut North.” Now the show is underway and here’s an excerpt from the review by Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty. — Geoff Boucher
“Farragut North,” Beau Willimon’s engaging drama about the dirty tricks and brutal backstabbing of those conducting the spin war for aspiring presidents, attempts to reignite our tapped-out passion for political one-upmanship. The play, which is having its West Coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse, may not be able to compete with the loony stranger-than-fiction cast of recent election battles or offer us any stop-the-presses scoops about our Swift Boat campaign culture, but it does capture the frenzied scheming and counter-scheming of would-be Washington kingmakers.
Better yet, the production has a rising superstar on board who could give Barack Obama a run for his charismatic money. Chris Pine, the paparazzi’s current object of affection after his breakout role as Capt. James T. Kirk in the new “Star Trek” film, stars as Stephen Bellamy, a 25-year-old press secretary for a Democratic presidential candidate who remains an invisible presence throughout. Imagine Karl Rove as a fit, chicly dressed media strategist for the other side and you have some idea of the nature of this latest boy genius.
A morality tale about an attractively malign central character, “Farragut North” is as much about what drives Stephen’s merciless pursuit of victory as it is about the way political machinations have eclipsed what’s really at stake in our elections. As a character study of a “crackberry” generation mover-and-shaker, who lives a life of wall-to-wall work (with scheduled barroom binges and hotel room dalliances), the play has a fresh accuracy that suggests the playwright, who worked for both Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York and Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, was taking juicy notes on the campaign trail.
But the drama doesn’t concentrate its energies as satisfyingly as it might. Willimon tries (and mostly succeeds) in staying one step ahead of the audience with his foxy plot.
— Charles McNulty
RECENT AND RELATED
CREDITS: Top photo of Chris Pine and Chris Noth by Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times
Chris Pine portrait by Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times.