Saturday, April 14, 2018

Play a Day: The Volunteer

Cassandra Rose
Fourteen days, fourteen plays! We are almost halfway through the month, and I feel we have barely gotten started. My list of recommendations is so long, many thanks to those who have made suggestions. I may even get to all of them, if not in April, then soon.

For Saturday I read The Volunteer by Cassandra Rose, and available at New Play Exchange.

Children, gather round, and let me tell you about that far-off and mythical land, about the leader with the famous face.

Stories about the Cold War have become the stuff of myth, fantasy, and popular culture. Stranger Things, The Shape of Water, The Americans. My childhood as a quaint, charming period onto which we may ask ourselves unpleasant but merely theoretical questions about the world today.

Nine days ago I quoted the President, who said in regards to Syria, "I want to get out." Last night he ordered airstrikes on that country. Admittedly, they were intended to be feign strength and power while at the same time not offend his handlers in Russia. Still, people were killed. We won't know who they are, their lives, their names.

The Volunteer begins as a "thought experiment" inspired by an op-ed piece which posed a simple question; what if the President had to murder someone with their bare hands in order to retrieve codes to launch a nuclear strike? Playwright Rose has a knack for witty dialogue, but she also knows how to make a strong, convincing argument. At first presentational and satiric, the narrative deftly morphs into an affecting drama with real-world parallels and consequences, at once mythic and intimate. I love plays like this.

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