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Trumbo

On the same night that George W. Bush was in New York accepting the Republican Party nomination for President on the premise that he upholds the values upon which this country is founded, 2000 miles away in Denver Dalton Trumbo lived again to bear witness to the contempt which Bush, the tradition from which he springs, and those who support his hypocritical ideology—of greed and moral self-righteousness—hold towards liberty and freedom of speech.

In Curious Theatre Company's regional premiere of Trumbo: Red, White & Blacklisted, the life of the Academy Award-winning screenwriter (The Brave One and Spartacus), including his resistance to Sen. Joseph McCarthy's House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) witch hunts, is highlighted through his letters.

Christopher Trumbo, Dalton's son, who wrote the play and was present on opening night, has carefully shaped his father's life, not only giving us the portrait of an incredibly witty and erudite writer and consummate patriot, but of a loving and flawed father.

Photo of (L to R) Narrator (Chris Reid) and Trumbo (Jamie Horton)
(L to R) Narrator (Chris Reid)
and Trumbo (Jamie Horton)
Photo by Todd Webster
In front of Michael R. Duran's elegant set—comprised of parchment-colored reproductions of key phrases from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights, all flanked by a period television and radio—Jamie Horton (as Trumbo) brings alive the heart and soul of this remarkable man, waxing eloquent about the rights of human beings to express themselves, emanating compassion for those in pain, and excoriating those who would sell out their friends and their country's principles for a few shekels.

Photo of (L to R) Dalton Trumbo (Jamie Horton) and Christopher Trumbo (Chris Reid) have a father-son talk
(L to R) Dalton Trumbo (Jamie Horton)
and Christopher Trumbo (Chris Reid)
have a father-son talk
Photo by Todd Webster
The details of Horton's performance—his vocal and physical nuances—are riveting, as we follow Trumbo's journey from celebrated playwright to pariah to honored martyr. On opening night this was particularly crucial to the production as the usually polished Chris Reid had intermittent problems with his lines as the Narrator (a stand-in for Christopher Trumbo, Dalton's son). In the following weeks the role of Trumbo will be rotated (as it was in New York), with Marcus Waterman, Jim Hunt, and John Ashton to follow, while Reid continues in the set-up role.

Photo of Jamie Horton as Dalton Trumbo
Jamie Horton as Dalton Trumbo
Photo by Todd Webster
Horton's casting is another coup for director Chip Walton, who has previously brought fellow Denver Center Theatre Company regulars John Hutton and Israel Hicks to the Acoma Center, and who has DCTC playwright and director Nagle Jackson scheduled to direct later this year.

This play could not have come at a better time for Denver, the country, and the world, given the abrogation of human rights that have followed on the heels of 9-11 and the U.S. Patriot Act. When Trumbo called the members of HUAC "fascists," he was not tossing off an idle ad hominim argument against his tormentors—he was definitively describing the system that supported and the methods practiced under McCarthyism.

Today, we face an even greater threat at the hands of the Bush-Cheney junta who have made an art of paying lip-service to the sacred while fleecing our nation and the world of its resources, smearing or snuffing out anyone who stands in their way. Through a corporate-controlled Congress, kowtowing judiciary, ownership of electronic voting machine manufacturers, and a nearly wholly-owned media, these pretenders to the "New World Order" are able, in an Orwellian fashion, to bend the minds of the American public to their will.

Let ten thousand Trumbos bloom! Trumbo: Red, White & Blacklisted runs through October 23rd. 303-623-0524 or www.curioustheatre.org.

Bob Bows

 

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