A political drama, “The True,” a play by Sharr White, is another case in which the excellence of the acting surpasses the level of the play. This New Group presentation is sharply directed by Scott Elliott and the cast grasps one’s attention. But how excited can one get about the subject of local political maneuvering around a 1977 mayoral primary in Albany?
White has based her material on real people and relationships. The terrific Edie Falco tears into her role as Dorothea “Polly” Noonan, depicted here as an intense, fast-talking and profanity-spouting, behind-the-scenes politico who has tried to keep things in line for years in the local Democratic Party. She has been especially loyal to Mayor Erastus Corning II, played by Michael McKean. A primary is looming and this time the mayor is being challenged by a younger Democrat.
The setting is the home of Noonan, who lives with her husband, Peter (Peter Scolari), who makes periodic stabs at calming her. But Dorothea doesn’t like to be inhibited and is prepared for vigorous battle to keep the mayor in office and her own position intact.
Oddly, as portrayed by McKean, the mayor seems a bit of a weakling. One may wonder how he has managed to hold the office for so many years. Now, in a moment of uncertainty, he becomes emotionally upset and thinks about throwing in the towel.
The personal situation is made interesting with the implication that he and Dorothea are revealed to have romantic feelings for each other, rooted is what is hinted to have happened in the past.
But the main focus is the political battle and the importance of loyalty and the effort to make certain that mayor prevails. Dorothea pulls no punches about the mayor’s need to get with the fight wholeheartedly.
Although everyone in the cast is good, including Glenn Fitzgerald as the young challenger Howard C. Nolan, the play drags a bit here and there. Yet no problem can overshadow the dynamism of Edie Falco’s acting achievement. At the Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd Street. Phone: 212-279-4200.