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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
The Intern

In the absence of truth, perception fills the void. -
Fast track politician Bud Rex, a political liberal at the University of California at Berkeley with a Dickensian name, is a pushover for sexy blonde intern Diana Sheridan who can quote Spinoza with as much passion as she puts into jumping Bud's bones. To Bud. it's a whirlwind romance that literally turns his head. To Diana, passion is destiny. To Jerry Tondino, Bud's campaign manager, it's disaster. We miss Bud's wife, whom he describes as the perfect political partner for him but, in the end, it's Bud's story as he faces the options that, whichever one he chooses, will change him and his life forever.

Jon Cellini's world premiere play takes off from where Monica Lewinsky and Chandra Levy left off. As the audience files in, Bud is revealed recumbent on his office floor. He's not dead but has just pulled an all-nighter.

A youthful beacon of hope for voters, the handsome Congressman's brilliance and candor make him a prospective shoo-in for the Senatorial seat he's after. Cellini tells his story in a tight montage of flashbacks and short scenes, including one devastatingly realistic murder scene. He builds character well, painting the weakness that Bud converts into a mask-like fašade of strength, exposing the maddening limits of Diana's passion, and the stand-up comic aspect of Tondino's salesmanesque campaign manager. Cellini also has a gift for tart dialogue and the telling phrase.

Director Stuart Rogers finds a tense and vibrant balance between the play's passion and realism. Jeff McLaughlin's set of dark stairs going nowhere, as well as serving as sets, entrances and exits, utilizes Theatre Tribe's tiny space by evoking vaulting ambition and the heights of passion. Luke Moyer's pinpoint lighting points a vicious finger at the combatants, for that's what they basically are.

Beth Anne Garrison finds all the colors in Cellini's script, making Diana cute, bright, infuriating and passionate. Bronson Picket, in the double cast play, showed remarkable range, extending from ingenuous likeable guy to a politician sheathed in steel. Jeff Kerr McGivney projects Jerry Tondino's smarmy resolve but lacks the malicious humor that would have stolen the show. Corie Vickers as Agent Mann posing as student journalist Maxine Carpenter pulls off this clever character twist with sharp effectiveness. Moira Squire grounds the play as Bud's idealistic assistant April Pyle. April Fatovich gave diversity to a variety of roles, most notably a starstruck Delivery Girl and Emily Adams, an intern who was obviously somebody's daughter.

A keen sense of political reality drives this play beyond the sex and scandal set-up into a vivid dissection of the sadly familiar psychology of power. Theatre Tribe is off to an auspicious start.

Playwright: Jon Cellini
Director: Stuart Rogers
Cast: David Haydn-Jones and Bronson Picket (Bud Rex), Jeff Kerr McGivney and Michael B. Silver (Jerry Tondino), Moira Squire (April Pyle), Tara Orr and Corie Vickers (Maxine Carpenter, Agent Mann), Beth Anne Garrison (Diana Sheridan), Alex Fatovich and Elizabeth Navarro (Emily Adams, Delivery Girl, Agent Mata, Carla)
Set Design: Jeff McLaughlin
Lighting Design: Luke Moyer
Sound Design: David Kronmiller
Running Time: One hour 50 minutes with one intermission
Running Dates: July 22 to August 27, 2005
Where: Theatre Tribe, 5267 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Ph: (866) 811-4111.
Reviewed by Laura Hitchcock on August 13.

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