Last night David and I saw Kunstler by Jeffrey Sweet at Barrington Stage's St. Germain Theatre. Jeff McCarthy ran away with the title role which might as well have been written for him.
I have seen him in numerous Barrington Stage productions over the past years, mostly musicals, but in Kunstler he has found his role.
The play is set at a nameless University in 1995 where William Kunstler is scheduled to speak. Outside many demonstrators are shouting hateful slogans against the famous lawyer who has defended the likes of the Freedom Riders in 1961,the Chicago Seven in 1968, the American Indian Movement at Wounded Knee in 1968, and the Attica Prison Riot in 1971.
He is introduced by a young law student played by Erin Roché, whom he involves in the speech, getting her to play the part of one of the judges before whom he is appearing and so on.
During the course of the 90 minute play, he relives the various trials and incarcerations he has lived through.
Mr. McCarthy uses his large sonorous voice and dramatic acting style to covey the trauma he has lived through to great effect.
This could almost be a one-man play since the character of the student is not really necessary to convey the life of this man.
Bravo to Mr. McCarthy and Barrington Stage for this fine opening event,