Assassins

★★★★
Narrow Way Stage Company/Sonoma Arts Live 
Through Oct. 4

The-Assassins-700Stephen Sondheim’s offbeat historical-musical fantasia on what drives certain desperate people to pick up a gun and attempt to kill a President is exactly the kind of material Narrow Way thrives on, but rarely has assembled a cast as thoroughly strong voiced and spot-on as the artists who’ve gathered to tell this twisted, funny, disturbing, moving, astonishing and successfully satisfying story. Tim Setzer leads the way as The Proprietor, a kind of ethereal carnival barker,
gathering to his shooting gallery the various lost soul who’ve committed the ultimate act of misplaced activism. From John Wilkes Booth (Patrick St. John) to Lee Harvey Oswald (Ryan Whitlock), with visits from lesser known assassins Charles Guiteau (Rick Love), Sam Byck (Matthew Lowenstein) and Squeaky Fromme (Nora Summers), this an absurdist stroll through the minds of madmen is challenging theater, full of unsettling insights and powerful questions. It’s also surprisingly fun, with a strong (though dark) sense of humor working at all times, along with a sense of genuine compassion that is itself an act of surprising courage on the part of the authors. This first-rate effort ends this weekend.

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