Saturday, November 5, 2016


Children don't get to select their parents.  You can be born the son of a teacher, a plumber or a candidate running for the highest office in the land...and you have no choice in the matter.  Just ask John, Jr., a dynamic and impassioned college student played by Christopher Finch, who finds himself on the defensive when, on the eve of his dad's potential victory as President-Elect, he is responsible for the proverbial wrench in the workings.  Has John, Jr. deliberately tried to derail his dad from his goal of leading the free world or is it an unfortunate accident of timing that is causing the internet to light up with a series of blurry photos of a recent college party?

This intriguing question is the eerily timely drama by Christopher Shinn "Now or Later" being showcased at Stratford's Square One Theatre Company weekends until Sunday, November 20 at their new home, for their 27th Anniversary Season, at the Stratford Academy, on 718 Birdseye Street, Stratford.

It's election night in 2008 and Pat Leo's John, Sr. is poised on the verge of victory.  Suddenly the spin doctors and political analysts are thrown into crisis mode with the surfacing of these pictures that are considered inappropriate and dangerous.  The solution is to have John, Jr. issue an apology to the Muslim world that he has insulted by appearing at a party in a costume of the prophet Mohammed with a friend, Matt (Patrick Kelly) as Pastor Bob.  In addition to his choice of dress, John, Jr. has written a response to a series of cartoons on campus that are insulting to Muslims.

To the son, it is a matter of defending free speech. He guards his privacy, his feelings for humanity and his personal stance as a homosexual.  When he was younger, he tried to kill himself and now he is asserting his rights to be his own person and make his own decisions, despite his place as the son of the President- Elect. "Now or Later" is basically the drama of a father and son, trying to understand the other's views, to reach a level of  compromise that will allow each of them to be his own man.

The son wants the father to defend freedom of speech and to support civil unions.  This is a crisis of conscience and is filled with conflicted and complex issues.  John, Jr.'s mother, a sympathetic Peggy Nelson, tries to straddle the fence in support of both men she loves while opposing opinions on the issue at hand are displayed by the political pundit Marc, a pragmatic Joseph Maker and Tracy, a party player Jennifer Ju, who wants to celebrate victory and not be caught in the muddle of controversy.

Artistic director Tom Holehan keeps a taut hand on the proceedings, one that pits a  father against a son, and threatens to destroy or cement their relationship.  For tickets ($20, $19 for seniors and students), call Square One Theatre at 203- 375-8778 or online at  Performances are Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. with a Talk Back after the show.  Apply the ticket stub from this show toward the full season for only $30.  Call the box office.

Come discover if this is a personal or a public debate, one that weighs family dynamics as privacy, political extremes and power battle with intolerance and intelligence, responsibility with religion, with you as the judge and jury.

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