“A Walk on The Beach” at the Theater for The New City is a introspective of a heavy debate about a sculpture in Hyannis Massachusetts. The debate is whether or not John Kennedy Jr should be shown next to his father walking on the beach as an adult or a three year old. At first sculptor David Lewis (Jack Coggins) wanted young “John John”. Ted and Caroline Kennedy would approve it if it was an older John Jr. David made a mock up of the sculpture to the horror of Charlie (John Carhart) a editor for the local newspaper. Between Charlie and the newspaper’s board, they try to do everything to stop it from being presented to the local residents. The tempers start to get short between David, Charlie and David’s wife, Nancy (Elizabeth Bove). Nancy is out to protect her husband and is more worried that he will fall back into alcohol, (he’s been sober for twenty two years.) David has an ace in the hole, however, Louis (David Shakopi), is politically connected and intends to talk directly to Ted Kennedy and raise money for the statue as well. The only problem is as the pressure starts to boil, the Kennedy’s do not want to get involved in a controversy. David feels that the deck is stacked against him. The only thing that keeps him going is the visits on the beach by JFK himself (James Earley.) Jfk inspirers David to do what is in his heart, he tells him that we never know what is right or wrong until we make the final decision.
“Walk” really picks up when Earley enters the stage, his banter with David is both emotional and inspirational. The real life Kennedy inspired many, his charismatic youth gave the Nation hope. We are reminded of how confident, how humble and how Kennedy’s words could inspire and motivate us. David takes Kennedy’s words and moves forth to do what he believes id right even though many do not agree with him. The writer, Claude Solnik seems to have portrayed a “David” vs the many Goliaths in Hyannis.
The lighting and the sound were very well done in this play. The set was both a beach, (at the front of the stage) and David and Nancy’s living room at the back of the stage. John Carhart make you use your imagination here. Alex Santullo creates a warm beach atmosphere with his bright light whenever JFK and David are having the most meaningful conversations. He has different moods in the lighting for the many emotions in The Lewis home.
Claude Solnik does a masterful job at bringing forth the many problems that behold David. First David did not want to do a sculpture period. Then he wanted a smaller JFK Jr. David then became absorbed by the older “John John”. He was unwilling to change the latter no matter what the public out cry would be. Director Donna Mejia brought forth all the emotions in the characters. We witnessed the tension first hand between David and Charlie; the frustration between David and his good friend Louis and the pity of JFK on David. JFK with all the words of inspiration at times could not keep David from wanting to give up. In the end, David did it his way, which was appropo since we heard all the Sinatra songs before the show.
Two notable performers stick out in my mind in this performance : James Earley as JFK was masterful. His voice inflection, his cadence and his mannerisms really hit Jack Kennedy perfectly. Earley had the confidence of Kennedy down, he had his humility, the same dry sense of humor and the same poise as the former president. Jack Coggins as David was also very good. He portrayed the blue collar plumber, slash sculpture who lived on Hyannis his whole life. Coggins came through as very believable as a working class person who idolized JFK and was very proud at the end to make a sculpture of the former president.