drama provided by a judicial trial. PlaywrightSelina Fillinger has written a worthy addition to that canon with Faceless, running now at 6thStreet Playhouse through June 2.
Susie Glenn (Isabella Sakren) is an 18-year-old Chicagowoman who is being put on trial for “conspiring to commit acts of terrorism”. Seducedand recruited on-line by a member of ISIS she knew as Reza, she converted toIslam and was apprehended on her way to become his bride.
United States Attorney Scott Bader (David Yen) is determinedto make Susie an example for other easily-manipulated youth and figures thebest way to do that is to have one of his assistant attorneys lead theprosecution. Why? Well, it might strengthen their case against a young, femaleMuslim defendant if it’s led by a young, female Muslim prosecutor. Claire Faith(Ilana Niernberger) at first resists the appointment as mere tokenism, but soonsees the case as a way to defend her faith against those who would corrupt it.
For the defense, Claire’s father Alan (Edward McCloud) hashired top gun attorney Mark Arenberg (Mike Pavone) who has his hands fulldealing with a defendant who, upon looking at a photograph of her, is seen byone person as a confused young girl and by another as an angry young woman.Which persona will the jury see?
Former 6th Street Artistic Director Craig Millerreturned to direct this crackling drama. Set in the round in their StudioTheatre, the focus switches back and forth between the two sides as they preparefor trial with sidebars to Susie’s social media-facilitated enlistment.
Conflict is at the heart of all good drama, and the religious,political, personal, and legal conflicts that envelop these characters all makefor a gripping evening of theatre.
Miller’s cast is terrific, delivering Fillinger’s sharp andoften uncomfortably humorous dialogue via somewhat stock but nevertheless dynamiccharacters. All are excellent, with McCloud doing some very heavy lifting as a manliving a parent’s worst nightmare – a child accused of a heinous crime.
An absorbing script, top notch performances, and some veryeffective technical elements combine to make Faceless one of the most compelling courtroom dramas in recentmemory. Case closed.
‘Faceless’runs through June 2 at the 6th Street Playhouse Studio Theatre in Santa Rosa. Fridayand Saturday performances are at 7:30pm; the Sunday matinee is at 2pm.
Formore information, go to 6thstreetplayhouse.com.