Written and Directed by Charlie Mount
Produced by Benjamin Scuglia for Theatre West
The Leather Apron club is another new play developed in Theatre West’s ‘Writers In Rep’. This is the third year the program has selected two world premier plays for production, generated by the playwrights in the Theatre West Writers Unit.
Given the political climate wreaking havoc with our facebook feeds right now I cannot think of a more timely moment for this brilliant play to enter our collective universe.
The play is about the infamous ‘Leather Apron Club’ a sinister and shadowy collective who trace their inception back to the founding fathers themselves, prepared to do anything to protect and guide in the continuing creation and development of America. It’s members are secretly selected snd then groomed to ‘engineer’ the political arena, to ‘suggest’ outcomes on public votes, senate races, house bills and anything and everything else, including whether or not we go to war.
Set a couple of months after 911, and on the eve of the Iraq war, the play takes place at a country estate retreat belonging to one of the club members and centers around the selection of a new member, brilliant young media analyst James Avery, proposed to replace the man nominating him, who is old, frail and dying..
During the process of inauguration it is revealed to the unwitting and more than a little unsettled fledgling member James, that in order to take the place of his mentor he must first kill him…something of which even the mentor is unaware. This murder will prove to the collective James’s commitment and fully immerse him in their thoroughly psychotic and thoroughly believable world.
Well, if you , like me, have powerful suspicions about the wily workings of the political arena, then you are in for a treat. This clever and wonderfully written thriller has shades of All The Presidents Men and The Manchurian Candidate, and echoes of anything written by Aaron Sorkin. The characters are pointedly defined, shameless reflections of so many of these sometimes slick and sometimes purposefully scattered men and women flitting around on the edges of recognition and slithering through the halls of power.
This play both creeps you out and admonishes you for any doubt you may have about your personal political paranoia. I honestly wasn’t sure If I should ‘whoop’ with glee at the rhetoric or weep with despair at the futility of it all. Which I imagine was rather the point.
The performances were completely flawless. I expect that every one of the actors in this brilliant ensemble cast were thrilled beyond belief to play with such interesting characters in such a twisted and insightfully drawn political drama. As a caveat, it is rather wonderful to see the worst of the bunch being played by a woman…and so icily well.
There can be no point in singling any one performance, this is a truly ensemble piece, and every performance is stunningly nuanced and complex…truly fantastic performances from all…
I am never, ever even remotely disappointed by anything from Theatre West, but I have to say The Leather Apron Club is one of the best plays I have seen there, which, given the extremely high quality shows they produce, must give you some idea of how much I really loved this play.
As usual the sets are impeccable, the care taken to every detail of the performance astounding. It really is always a joy to be in Theatre Wests’s capable theatrical hands.
Charlie Mount, the Writer and Director, is, interestingly enough, also an illusionist, which is perhaps why he so deftly plays with the concepts of secrecy, deceit and manipulation as if they are and always will be a part of grand illusion that is world politics. Wherever he comes by this talent I have him to thank for my continued and now even more heightened disgust at it all.
I highly and enthusiastically recommend ‘The Leather Apron Club’ at Theatre West via their Writers in Rep project and urge you to get out of the house and spend some time and money at your local theatre.
The play returns for a limited engagement from July 15 - 31 Friday & Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm.
3333 Cahuenga Blvd West, Hollywood, CA 90068
Artie Stein - Anthony Battelle
James Avery - Adam Conger
Kent Garfield - Roger Kent Cruz
Col. Gil Hart - Yancey Dunham
Dr. Edward Reed - Don Moss
Sen. Emily Green - Karen Ragan-George
Elliot Blake - Alan Schack
Grace Keebler - Ashley Taylor
Set by Jeff G. Rack
Lights by Yancey Dunham
Stage Manager – David Mingrino
Sound by Charlie Mount
Asst. to the Director – Chloé Rosenthal