ASSASSIN is a play that speaks to a culture in which people revere professional football players. It also addresses the brutality the game inspires in its players and fans. ASSASSIN is a fictional play, which is inspired by true events that occurred in 1978.
In a preseason game on August 12, 1978, the Oakland Raiders played the New England Patriots. In this low-stakes game the Raiders defensive back, Jack Tatum, hit Patriots' wide receiver, Darryl Stingley head on. This collision left Stingley paralyzed from the chest down and he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. ASSASSIN tells the story of how that one play affected the lives of two revered football players.
ASSASSIN is inspired by true events, and is influenced by the "what ifs" of those events. Playwright, David Robson explains, "I wondered what might happen if a Tatum-like character tried to make one last ditch effort to reconcile with the man he injured." This was the beginning of a series of "what if" questions that led to the accomplished script of ASSASSIN.
Brian Anthony Wilson and Dwayne A. Thomas star in this two-person play. Wilson plays Frank Lucas, the "assassin" of the title. Thomas portrays Lewis, the lawyer who represents Lyle Turner, the man Lucas paralyzed. The play revolves around a meeting of these two men who are discussing a live post-Superbowl interview of Frank Lucas and Lyle Turner. The live interview is to be titled "Return of the Legends." ASSASSIN delves into the lives of these two men, and explores the life changing consequences of one tragic play in a single low-stakes preseason game. The writing of this play is smart and insightful. The playwright, David Robson, does not take sides, he expects the audience to come to their own conclusion. The brilliance that comes with this play is that it encourages a dialogue after the play that will have audience members discussing these hard-hitting topics for weeks.
The stars of ASSASSIN, Wilson and Thomas provide superb performances. Wilson's portrayal of Frank Lucas is full of brutal honesty. The character is full of anger because his whole reputation is based on the incident in which he paralyzed a man. He exclaims in the play, "Did I commit a crime?" Wilson's interpretation of this character is raw and honest, and Wilson displays flair in this role. Thomas's depiction of Lewis is emotional. Through his dialogue, the audience feels his frustration and determination. The dialogue in which Thomas juxtaposes the beef industry with The Players of sports is ingenious. Even though this is a two-person play, the amount of raw emotion involved in this play makes the play organic.
ASSASSIN is a world premier play co-produced with InterAct Theatre Company. This is a play not only for those who love sports, but also for those who are passionate about theatre. ASSASSIN runs at the Act II Playhouse through March 17, 2013. For tickets call the Act II Box Office at (215)654-0200 or get tickets online at www.act2.org.
Photo Credit: Kathryn Raines/Plate 3 Photography