How far are you willing to go for your beliefs? This appears to be the bottom line question in Robert Carroll’s world premiere of The Believers, a new work presented by the capable Storm Theatre Company. Carroll drew his inspiration for the play by working for various candidates and politicians within the New York City area. One might think, given his insider knowledge, that his experiences would generate an explosive and riveting tale. After all, there are fewer subjects more fertile than politics for dramatic tension. And yet The Believers comes across as, well…tame.
Chris (Taylor Anthony Miller) is a young, overly ambitious campaign manager adamant on getting his candidate, Eugene Johnson, elected to the city council. With the aid of George (Joe Danbusky) and Dan (Christopher Bellant), Conner shrewdly decides to fight his opponent using a smear poster filled with half truths and some outright lies. On the eve of election, the three of them decide the ethics of canvassing their election districts with this literature. Chris’ stubbornness causes him to take matters into his own hands and fight viciously to the finish, even while it blinds him to the severity of a life altering event.
Miller creates a compelling and gripping character in Chris, bringing an intensity that wavers between dogged determination and self detonation. His fellow cast members provide excellent support in evoking an authentic campaign atmosphere. Josh Iacovelli has created a realistic set in the black box space, complete with clutter, cardboard boxes and coffee cups-everything one imagines a candidate’s office to be. One only wishes that Carroll would have channeled his resources into a dishy roman a clef and shortened this overly long piece (which runs nearly two hours) into a brisk 90 minute one act. Still, it is reassuring to know that Storm theatre is continuing its’ commitment to quality on actual production values.
The Believers runs through November 1st at Theatre of the Church of the Notre Dame. 405 West 114th Street, NY NY. For tickets and information, visit http://www.stormtheatre.com/