Review by Terry Gaisin
We’re serious fans of ‘BLUE BLOODS’ so the expression “family always comes first” has special meaning. We kind-of like our grandkids and even our two daughters; BUT, the people who help us publish O.A.R. are our real family and when one of them accomplishes something we “schlep nachas” or take a personal pride. Contributor Judith Robinson has written a play and naturally, I was there to witness the event. Great concept; super execution.
Judith is a teacher and a writer, this project took her ten years to finalize.
In the late 70’s Jimmy Carter was about to become the 39th President of the U.S. His close friend Cyrus Vance was earmarked to become Secretary of State but Carter needed to know how Vance stood on ameliorating the Cold War. Through Ambassador Rockefeller’s contacts; communication was arranged with Andrei Gromyko and potential POTUS advisor Zbigniew Berzezinski, (Dick Preston) the national security advisor to the previous administration. Their machinations and interactions (assumed and researched) form the basis of ‘A Persistent Peace’ and was presented as an almost-debate with a narrator to bridge the progress. Folks old enough and politically astute enough to remember the era will find the deliberations fascinating and re-collective.
The Vance portrayal was by Graeme MacQueen and his emotions ring true; almost like he was inside of the man’s psyche. The phraseology & interpretations seem convincing and credible. The developing respect and almost-friendship that evolves between him and Gromyko, ably played by Paul Dekar are the real meat of the play and are more than well-written; they carry an implication of eavesdropping or espionage by the author.
The peanut-growing Carter who was elected more as a protest against the eight years of the Nixon/Ford presidencies, than about appreciation for his intellect or political message. Mostly, it was that he wasn’t a Republican. Something like Canada’s recent landslide for our ‘Not Quite Ready’ new Prime Minister! SALT-II limiting arms and the use of the infamous Red Phone kept the Doomsday Clock at a tentative 11:55. D.C. is a long way from Plains GA. Thus, Ray Cunnington has to present his role as more than a little daunting. His reading was a little understated for someone about to be the most powerful person in the world. By play’s end, he evolved into the compelling individual with all the perquisites allotted the Presidency.
Given the international political unrest in today’s World, and the challenges facing countries and their elected or totalitarian rulers; A PERFECT PEACE, (or maybe an alternative title) is contemporary and thus deserves a larger and staged version. Think of the fun set designers could have with a 45 degree mirror and a Great Seal on the floor of an oval stage! The one-night performance at The Quaker House was an intimate try-out, which even allowed a post-curtain discussion.