I saw “Off the Record” Wednesday night, Boisean Lynn Allison’s play inspired by the 2007 arrest of former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig.
There are nine performances left at Boise Contemporary Theater. I strongly recommend that anyone who cares about politics and the cultural shifts that influence policy see this drama. Tickets are a bargain, ranging from $15 to $31, with discounts for those under age 30. There are shows Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week and Wednesday through Saturday next week.
During the run up, including a reading last year and a snippet at a fundraiser/rehearsal last month, Allison and director Dwayne Blackaller promised surprises. They deliver.
Stephen Bradbury portrays Sen. John Michael Goodwin as smooth, tender and grounded. Matthew Cameron Clark’s Joe Mahoney -- the undercover policeman modeled after Sgt. Dave Karsnia -- is a bit of a mess. Both deliver performances so strong that I found myself forgetting the Craig incident.
But having spent five months of my working life immersed in the Craig story, I know I watched with a different perspective than many in the house. The performance left me troubled and uneasy, and not just because we Americans continue to bump along the long path toward erasing bigotry.
I found myself identifying with Officer Mahoney, reviving the discomfort I felt five years ago as I pried into whether Craig deserved to be called a hypocrite for living a secret life and voting another way. I slept poorly and I can’t get the story out of my head.
This isn’t a provincial tale for a small-state Capitol that buzzed over Craig’s time in the spotlight. It is deeply ambiguous and hinged to our continuing struggle with sexual mores. I sure hope some smart producer tries the play Off Broadway or at Arena Stage in Washington.
I’ve said this before and I repeat: Larry Craig was a victim of intolerance. Talented, ambitious, different, he did his best. “Off the Record” captures this singular American story with nuance, kindness and grace.
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