Playwright Sarah Burgess has proven herself highly adept at turning the driest details into the stuff of high drama. Her last play took on the unlikely topic of private equity, and it was riveting, believe it or not. In her latest, "Kings," she dives into the weeds of Washington lobbying, and once again impressively exposes the devil in the details.
The devil in this case is political corruption. Burgess shows how lobbyists, through their clients, control the purse strings of special interest money. And there's a lot of it.
So when the special interest seeks particular legislation favorable to their business, they send out their lobbyists to make deals with our elected officials. And of course, those deals involve gobs of campaign cash. That's how the NRA works and that most certainly explains why gun control in this country is a non-starter.
In "Kings," the issue happens to be the carried interest loophole. But before your eyes glaze over, you don't need to know much about it except that Burgess' protagonist, a newly elected and highly principled congresswoman, finds herself on the losing side of the debate, and we see the intense pressure that's brought to bear on her to vote against her conscience.
Eisa Davis nicely underplays the part displaying fine nuance as a rookie politician gaining confidence and a strong voice as the wolves close in.
Aya Cash and Gillian Jacobs, also excellent, manage to avoid total villainy, investing the lobbyists with sufficient humanity.
And Zach Grenier is superb as a veteran senator who's played the game so long, he's forgotten why he's there.
With all those nitty gritty details, direction is key in a play this dense and, thanks to Thomas Kail's lucid staging, "Kings" makes its point loud and clear.
Given the troubling news coming out of Washington these days, "Kings" arrives in most timely fashion. And while it doesn't offer much hope, its disturbing truths serve as a welcome antidote to the insanity infecting our nation.