Review: ‘First Monday in October’

The Odyssey Theater Ensemble's production of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's "First Monday in October" is mildly entertaining, but the play is so dated, it's frankly surprising the theater chose to revive it. The political scene has changed so much in the three decades since the piece premiered that the issues it presents seem quaint.

The Odyssey Theater Ensemble’s production of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s “First Monday in October” is mildly entertaining, but the play is so dated, it’s frankly surprising the theater chose to revive it. The political scene has changed so much in the three decades since the piece premiered that the issues it presents seem quaint. Director Allan Miller doesn’t bring a lot to the table in terms of staging or pacing, although the scenes where the two leads get to argue with one another demonstrate a liveliness the rest of the show lacks.

When the president appoints Orange County conservative Ruth Loomis (Laurie O’Brien) as the first woman on the Supreme Court, the other justices aren’t happy about it. Nobody, however, is less pleased than liberal Daniel Snow (Ralph Waite), who sees Loomis and her well-written opinions as dangerous for the court. Unexpectedly, personal problems bring the two combatants closer together, and they realize they share the same passion for serving their country.

Waite makes the most of his cantankerous judge, growling out his dialogue with comic flair. In his hands, jokes such as, “My heart wouldn’t attack me — it wouldn’t dare” work very well.

O’Brien is good in a difficult role, although her character seems to exist mainly to make Waite’s character look morally correct. She does, however, make a delicious bit of business out of angrily snapping pencils.

On opening night, however, Waite and O’Brien seemed to be struggling with their lines, which diminished the quality of the show.

Technical credits are all adequate, if nothing special.

First Monday in October

Odyssey Theater Ensemble; 99 seats; $25 top

Production

An Odyssey Theater Ensemble presentation of a play in two acts by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. Directed by Allan Miller.

Creative

Sets, Victoria Profitt; costumes, Jennifer Koster; lighting, Kathi O'Donohue; sound, Ed Zajac; production stage manager, Amy Embry. Opened, reviewed April 8, 2006; runs through June 4. Running time: 2 HOURS.

Cast

Chief Justice James Jefferson Crawford - Kent Minault Associate Justice Daniel Snow - Ralph Waite Marshal - Frank Boyd Associate Justice Richard Carey - Dennis Delsing Associate Justice Josiah Clewes - Tim Hodgin Associate Justice Harold Webb - Bruce B. Mathews Associate Justice Christopher Halloran - Charles Anteby Associate Justice Waldo Thompson - Bill J. Stevens Mason Woods - Scott Roberts Judge Ruth Loomis - Laurie O'Brien Blake - Gary Waynesmith Associate Justice Ambrose Quincy - Ken Zavayna Nightwatchman - Mario Z. Photographer, 1st Attendant - Jason Liska 2nd Attendant, Mr. Robinson - Jon Ericksen
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