Legacy speech in the making:
From the Ross Valley Players' current production of "November," pictured (from left to right) LeAnne Rumble of San Francisco as Presidential Speech Writer Clarice Bernstein; Buzz Halsing of San Rafael as U.S. President Charles "Chucky" Smith; and Stephen Dietz of Petaluma as Chief of Staff, Archer Brown. Performances continue at the Ross Valley Players' Barn Theatre through Oct. 17.
Photo by Wendell H. Wilson

NOVEMBER by David Mamet and directed by James Dunn. The Ross Valley Players Barn Theatre, Marin Art & Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. at Lagunitas, Ross, CA. 415-456-9555 or www.rossvalleyplayers.com. September 17 – October 17, 2010.


November at Ross Valley Players (RVP) under the direction of theatrical icon James Dunn is side splitting evening that skewers the political world and should be seen before you vote this November. A.C.T. presented the West Coast premiere in 2009, just before the November elections and it was a big hit. RVP’s production matches the high budget A.C.T. show with one exception. RVP’s on stage sofa, that plays an important part in the story line (really, after all the play is a satirical farce) is inferior to the one appearing at A.C.T!

The timeliness of November’s concepts is mirrored in the recent political scandals of the governors of Illinois and South Carolina. David Mamet elevates his play from the State to the National level setting the scene in Oval Office. Fabulous scenic designer Ken Rowland’s replica of the Oval Office alone is worth a visit to RVP’s Barn Theatre.

Director Dunn has personally rounded up a cast that work together as an ensemble interacting like a well-oiled machine. This brings us to machine politics and machinations beyond the pale of decorum and integrity. Since this is a Mamet play, be prepared for a plethora of the F--- word. There is President Charles “Chucky” H.P. Smith (Buzz Halsing), the most corrupt person ever to inhabit the Oval Office, Clarice Bernstein (LeAnne Rumbel) a lesbian speechwriter who wishes to marry her partner on national TV and Archer Brown (Stephen Dietz) a cynical chief of staff who is an isle of sanity.

Into this impending maelstrom arrives The Representative of the National Association of Turkey and Turkey Products Manufacturers [RNATTPM] (Tom Reilly) bringing the Thanksgiving Turkeys to be pardoned by the President. Indian chief Dwight Grackle (Romulo Torrres) makes a pivotal entrance late in the second act. Although these are the only on-stage actors, Mamet’s ability to use of the ubiquitous telephone to create fully envisioned off-stage characters is legion and on full display in November.

Buzz Halsing is a non-stop dynamo who struts his time upon the stage with intimidating authority has great comic timing enhanced by unflappable Stephen Dietz’s quiet demeanor as the stabilizing influence on the Presidental ranting. LeAnne Rumbel is perfect in her role, never overstepping her subservient role as the President’s speechwriter even when she backs him into a corner to marry her and her sweetheart. Tall elegant Tom Reilly as the RNATTPM adds a touch of class to the corruption and is believable when tragedy strikes his beloved turkeys.

There are many twists and turns throughout the unfolding that will keep you entertained and in raucous laughter. James Dunn has mounted an auspicious production to start RVP’s 81st year. Running time under 2 hours with and intermission.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com