A Jewish boy and his family flee the pogroms of Russia and come to America.Halfway across the country, another boy grows up on a potato farm in Idaho.
As adults, their lives converge through the creation of television — also known as The Farnsworth Invention, the current offering of the Throughline Theatre Company.
The Farnsworth Invention is written by someone who knows a great deal about television: Aaron Sorkin, the writer behind The West Wing and The Newsroom.
Throughline has pulled out all the stops, ending its season with a period drama utilizing no fewer than 14 actors in a myriad of roles.
Liam Macik is brilliant as David Sarnoff, one of the first media moguls in America.His commanding presence centers this production beautifully.
As inventor Philo T. Farnsworth, Andrew D. Wolf brings the proper blend of quirkiness and high drama. Sadly, when he narrates action, Wolf speaks too quickly, and much of the exposition is lost.
The ensemble cast is outstanding, whether playing doctors, movie stars, family members, executives or Wall Street workers. They also have the task of quickly changing the set and props. Kudos to this hard-working ensemble!
Director Jordan Matthew Walsh keeps Act I moving at a brisk pace. Act II tends to bog down, but that might be more the fault of the script than Walsh's direction.Also, the play comes to a very unsatisfying end, but Walsh can't be blamed for that, either.
However, Walsh can be faulted for bringing his action too far downstage. Not only are the actors practically in the laps of audience members in the front row, they become virtually invisible to those in the back row. And why must that huge table and all those chairs have to come on and off stage? Couldn't these set pieces stay on stage and simply be reconfigured for each scene?
Walsh is also responsible for the sound design. While the actual choices are fine, the balance is terribly off-kilter.Often what is supposed to be underscoring makes the actors impossible to hear.
Despite such flaws, however, The Farnsworth Invention is worth seeing.