The complicated world of politics withstands a solid jolt from Robert Penn Warren’s withering assault in “All the King’s Men.” The children’s nursery rhyme in which the central character is broken after a “great fall” merely foreshadows the many conniving antagonists who can’t or won’t put him “back together again.”
Director Ed Healy transforms a very wordy script as he successfully infuses intelligence and energy. His actors embrace this tale of corruption and chaos in southern politics. They chronicle the rise and fall of a mythical governor, well played by Bill Barry. As Willie Stark, he is a combination of misguided honesty and unbridled evil.
The set (Gary VanderPutten), costumes (Mykel Frank and James Martinelli), props (Jan VaderPutten), lighting (Leo Contrino), sound (Cameron McIntosh) and overall stage management (Corinne Contrino) are true to the Depression-era events. They also provide a haunting sense of conflict and foreboding. Tonight, the contrast between shadows and light is especially important.
Emily Mathis as Sadie is terrifying with her frequent and ruthless verbal manipulations. Elly-Anne Ehrman delivers an incredibly wrenching interpretation as an anguished wife and mother. On the other hand, a more casual delivery skillfully marks Kerry Wolf’s performance as the professor. There’s betrayal behind the actions of Dena Rysdam Miller as a cuckolding mistress and self-destruction in the mind of her brother Adam, played by Marc Hermann.
The story’s powerful revelations are plentiful. They are frequently unveiled by Terry Ellison as Jack Burden. He is the narrator and often the spark that ignites important events in this cautionary tale of misplaced emotions and exploitation.
Supporting players are spokes in this warped wheel of fortune. Unmistakably shady Tiny Duffy (Joe Pacifico) is the perfect stooge who outlasts his master and seizes power. The sinister William Larsen (David Moseder) sends shivers through the audience as the perfect Depression-era white collar gangster.
Kudos as well to Jesse Pimentel as misguided Tom Stark, the governor’s son. Applause for Raymond Wagner as heartbroken Judge Irwin; Steven Lerner as Sugar Boy; Chelsea Marie Logan, Geovanni Cedeno, Natali de Assis and strong support behind the scenes.
For information on this and future productions, call 718-237-2752 or surf to heightsplayers.org. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.