Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.


Karron Graves and James Whitmore
Judge Francis Biddle accomplished many things in his life. He acted as attorney general for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, served as a judge during the Nuremberg Trails and became chairman of Americans for Democratic Action. However, there was more to Biddle than just what was listed on his resume. He was a husband, a father and had a great appreciation for the proper use of the English language.

In the last year of his life, the judge hired a young woman to act as his secretary. That secretary was playwright Joanna McClelland Glass. In her play Trying, the difficult relationship between the judge and his secretary is explored with humor and poignancy.

Now playing at Ford's Theatre, Trying paints a fascinating portrait of these two people. It never delves deep into the personal lives of its characters. Instead, it focuses on the combative nature of their early association and the transition to a relationship marked by mutual appreciation.

This two-person show is not a love letter to Biddle but it does highlight a very special friendship without being overly sentimental. The play is quite compelling. The characters are well defined and the dialogue is interesting.

Trying stars respected actor James Whitmore as the feisty judge. Mr. Whitmore's performance is nothing short of remarkable; it is incredibly honest and engaging. Karron Graves plays his determined secretary Sarah. Ms. Graves is a good match for Whitmore. Whether she is his friend or foe, she is always interesting.

Jeff Bauer's recreation of the judge's office feels genuine, as does Pamela Scofield's '60s era costumes. Tony Angelini's sound design adds to the authenticity of the piece.

Trying is a well constructed piece that is beautifully acted. It is also an opportunity to see the wonderful James Whitmore. Trying runs through February 26th.

Ford's Theatre
January 20th —February 26th
Writing by Joanna McClelland Glass
Directed Gus Kaikkonen
511 Tenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Ticket Information: 202-347-4833 or

Photo: T. Charles Erickson

-- Tracy Lyon

Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.

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