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Dally with the Devil

This new one-act about two political campaign operatives vying for the attention of a blogger is sadly predictable. logo
Erika Rolfsrud, Elizabeth A. Davis, and Elizabeth Norment
in Dally with the Devil
(© Jon Kandel)
Victor L. Cahn's disappointing new one-act play, Dally with the Devil, now at Theatre Row's Beckett Theatre, deals with the strange bedfellows politics can make. While it appears that Cahn is genuinely concerned about the current state of our government, there's no new insight into the political system or its players. The writing is safe and never treads over established boundaries where we might be surprised with what we learn.

Set outside an influential blogger's remote beach house in Cape Cod just before the onslaught of a senatorial election, the work looks at how two operatives for opposing campaigns (Elizabeth A. Davis and Elizabeth Norment) vie for the interest of the blogger, Charlotte (Erika Rolfsrud), through the salacious stories they have to tell.

Cahn's script focuses on partisan banter and how one's allegiances can become blurred overtime through overzealousness, but unfortunately, he is unable to craft characters that leap off the confines of the page.

Worse, he ends up resorting to painfully long sections of exposition that include dreaded lines like "How many years has it been?" True, there are some clever lines scattered throughout, but the heart of the piece is missing. In a political thriller, the plot turns should quicken the pulse as they excite the mind into examining the possibilities, not provoke yawning at the predictable outcome of events.

Moreover, despite charged performances that play off of each other's rhythms -- Norment even evokes the gracefulness of the late Jill Clayburgh -- these talented actors can't jump start this play. Like many a political candidate at the end of an election season, all that really remains of the play by the end is the potential of what might have been.

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