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NY1 Theater Review: "I Forgive You, Ronald Reagan"

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A new play called "I Forgive You, Ronald Reagan" deals with the aftermath of a 1981 labor dispute that involved our 40th president. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.

"I Forgive You, Ronald Reagan" concerns the air-traffic controllers' strike in 1981, which came to a stunning end when then-President Reagan made good on his threat to break the union. For most of the 12,000 workers who lost their jobs, it was devastating, and some never got over it. That's the backdrop for this melodramatic new play, which admirably raises important issues, even if its heavy-handed treatment keeps it from getting off the ground.

When we first meet Ray Deluso, it's 1981 and he's a proud air traffic controller striking for better labor conditions. Defying his contract and the president, he refuses to return to work, and it costs him his livelihood.

Twenty-three years later, we find Ray embittered and all but broken. Except for his loving wife and daughter, he's alone, often retreating to his attic, which he's converted into a pretend control tower. He regards his best friend Buzz as a traitor after Buzz split with the union and kept his job.

Setting the play in Ray's home, writer John S. Anastasi has essentially written a kitchen sink drama. Ray is disconsolate and cranky, and his poor wife, who spends a lot of time in the kitchen, does all she can to keep their marriage alive. Their daughter, raised in this unhappy environment, has problems of her own.

The concept is a good one, offering a unique perspective on the defining nature of work and the impact of job loss on family and friends. But it's also clouded by contrivance and over-the-top direction.

The actors, Patricia Richardson (of Home Improvement fame), Danielle Faitelson, P.J. Benjamin as Ray and Robert Emmet Lunney, are all talented, but even these committed performers just can't rise above the leaden writing.

"I Forgive You, Ronald Reagan" is a well-intentioned drama that just seems to have gone out of control.

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