Review: Of Kites and Kings

Of Kites and Kings

Stop in the name of love.

Stop in the name of love.

Photo courtesy of Sacramento TheatrE Company

Of Kites and Kings; 6:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; $12-$35. Sacramento Theatre Company, 1419 H Street; (916) 443-6722; Through December 13.
Rated 4.0

Ben Franklin is a larger-than-life American hero whose accomplishments are well known to the general public. He was one of this country’s founding fathers. He was a politician, a postmaster, a printer, a diplomat and so much more. As an inventor he gave us the bifocals and the Franklin stove, as a writer he left us with wise sayings in Poor Richard’s Almanack, and as a scientist, he experimented with electricity.

But even larger-than-life heroes have their flaws. A new world premiere play by Gary Wright, now at Sacramento Theatre Company, shows that in Franklin’s personal relationships there was much lacking. Of Kites and Kings covers 33 years of Franklin’s life. Much of the story centers around his rocky relationship with his illegitimate son, William.

Wright’s play, directed by Eric Wheeler, features Ted Barton as a convincing look-alike Franklin, Dan Fagan as William (whose performance is sabotaged by an ill-fitting wig in the second act), Adrian Anderson as William’s illegitimate son Temple (Anderson alternates in this role with Riley Edwards), and Katie Rubin as Polly Stevenson, who runs the boarding house in which most of the action takes place.

Rubin acts as a narrator of the events and adds her marvelous humorous timing. Polly swoons for William at first sight and much of her narration involves wishful thinking about what might be between herself and the handsome young man.

This show has a lot of humor without being a comedy. It also focuses on serious situations without being a drama, and it discusses a bit of history without being a historical drama. What it is: a fun evening of theater by a top-notch cast.