Review: Kings of America
Sean Patrick Nill’s first play is now on Sacramento Theatre Company’s Pollock stage, directed by Lyndsay Burch.
Noah is a brilliant but failing high school kid with a passion for history, especially American presidents, a passion he shares with his father. But Noah is going through an emotional crisis. His grades are failing and he is plagued by dreams of past presidents.
This is an unusual but riveting work where we see conversations between, for example, Bill Clinton and Thomas Jefferson, or Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt. The presidents argue with each other and with Noah, and comment on the world today (particularly funny is Jimmy Carter and JFK discussing the movie Twilight.)
The boy learns that the presidents are not the idols he has imagined them to be, especially in their private lives, but ordinary men faced with extraordinary situations. (The play even makes George Bush a sympathetic character!) In his dream conversations, as well as meetings with his therapist, Noah is able to face his problems and begin healing his current estrangement with his mother.
J’cyn Crawley, from STC’s School of the Arts, is outstanding as Noah. (He will be alternating in the role with Jacquez Cosby.) John Lamb, Will Springhorn and Jordan Stidham breathe life into 12 different presidents, most of whom are instantly recognizable.