Friday, April 23, 2010

Two Geniuses

The Farnsworth Invention 
by Aaron Sorkin

"Wachtel: The thing's a monstrosity, David. It's huge and unsightly. Think of a person's home, where the hell are they gonna put it?
Sarnoff: Where they used to put their radio."

TimeLine Theatre's latest production is a riff on the beginnings of the television revolution. But their Chicago premiere production of The Farnsworth Invention by Aaron Sorkin as directed by Nick Bowling is more than that. It is a mighty success. I found the production exciting from the moment that P. J. Powers as David Sarnoff begins his opening monologue. It is a moment under a single bright spotlight that suggests one of the themes of the play: light - with its brilliance and its speed. The play is also about entertainment and electricity, learning and luminosity, and its' moments speed by as the actors portray scenes from the lives of Philo T. Farnsworth, played well by Rob Fagin, and David Sarnoff - certainly a larger-than-life character. Surrounded by family, friends, and others (the play has sixteen characters) they share familiar and unfamiliar episodes in the history of this paradigm-changing invention called television. I enjoyed the play from beginning to end and found I did not want it to end. Just as the players evoked images from our collective cultural past there were more memories of my own that were rekindled by the excitement of the play I continued to reflect upon as the lights of the stage faded to black.

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