The Women’s Theater Company this past Friday night (March 15, 2013) presented the world premiere of "A Person of Interest," written by the New Jersey playwright Jewel Seehaus-Fisher, a post 9/11 drama dealing with the deadly anthrax attack.
Ms. Fisher based the story on an actual FBI investigation of a New Jersey based bio-chemist who was labelled a "person of interest" following the death in 2001 of at least six people with many more permanently injured from the anthrax mailings.
The impressive Robin Marie Thomas is Doctor Charlotte Hauser, a professor of cell biology. She leads a fine cast in this interesting examination of the toll the investigation takes on the lives of those who become suspects or assist the government agencies in dealing with anthrax and its potential as a "weapon of mass destruction."
With no reason to believe the mailings were a one-time event, but the first of many to follow, the FBI aggressively follows every lead even to openly investigating possible suspects based on little or no evidence. In this case, the investigation of the play's "a person of interest," Dr. Haser's closest friend and former mentor, Harry Rabin, includes storming Rabin's home, office and laboratory with a small army of chemical experts clad in protective gear, openly armed FBI agents, helicopter support and a full complement of tv broadcast journalists and crews...all in broad daylight, ensuring that the neighbors are aware of his possible murderous activity.
Without a shred of evidence, Dr. Harry Rabin, nicely played by Craig Zimmerman, stands to lose his University position along with his international standing in the scientific community.
Leading the investigation of Dr. Rabin is an FBI agent, Jane Willis, played by Meridith Johnson, who may remind you of the police officer Javert and his relentless pursuit of the decent Valjean in "Les Miserables." Dr. Hauser, the center of the play, finds herself in the impossible position of mistrusting both the FBI, particularly agent Jane Willis, and the government agency that has enlisted her aid, in contrast to her trust of her former mentor and Department head, Dr. Rabin.
Her position is further complicated by her husband's demands, following a visit from agent Willis and the media circus gathered outside their home, that she sever all ties with Dr. Rabin and cease to be a party to the development of this potential "weapon of mass destruction."
Playing Dr. Hauser's husband Bob is the very fine actor Scott McGowan. McGowan is a prime member of the outstanding Dreamcatcher Repertory Company based in Summit. We awarded McGowan a New Jersey 2012 Footlights award for his excellent work for Dreamcatcher and star turn in "I Do, I Do" at the Bickford. As Bob Hauser, and the same can be said of the other male character, Harry Rabin, the slim character details provided by the author leaves questions about their actions. In the case of Hauser, isn't his wife providing a major service to the nation? It is not as if the demands on her time are to be permanent.
Rounding out the cast as the Hauser's young daughter is Katie Mitchell, a theatre major at Muhlenberg College who perfectly displays her fine acting talent in the company of the Equity pros- Robin Marie Thomas, Meridith Johnson and Scott McGowan. Providing the voices of Congressman Carr and a reporter is Steve Easterling.
"Person of Interest" is smartly directed by Barbara Krajkowski, the artistic director of the Women's Theater Company and also a New Jersey treasure for her dedication to theater particularly for nurturing/supporting/guiding women in all levels of theatrical participation. In the case of "A Person of Interest" working with playwright Jewel Seehaus-Fisher in the entire development process from early readings to this the first fully staged presentation.
Director Krajkowski's production team includes Grayce Coviello stage manager, Lois Livreri production manager, Frances M. Harrison costumes, Jonathan Wentz set design/construction, Kelly Easterling assisted by Nick Downham lighting design, Steve Easterling sound and voiceovers, Robin Gunn production assistant, Erica Conrad Stepper props and Laura Petruccelli assistant stage manager.
The play is presented in 90 minutes with no intermission.
They will be performing "Person of Interest" at the Women’s Theater Company, located at the Parsippany Playhouse (1130 Knoll Road, Lake Hiawatha, NJ.+) until March 30th. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m.; ticket prices are $20 for.adults, and $18 for seniors and students. To purchase tickets online go to www.womenstheater.org or call 973-316-3033, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewed by Rick Busciglio March 15, 2013
+For GPS driving directions, enter the town of Boonton, 07005.