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Capital Fringe 2014: ‘The Matty Matthews Foundation’

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What is to be said of a democratic political system that rewards connections over talent, charisma over hard work, and money over principles? This is the subject Eagle Wings Theater Company tackles with The Matty Matthews Foundation. Writer and director John McGrath competently pulls off this engaging parable on the values systems modeled in the political landscape with a dedicated team.

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The plot follows an aged Matty Matthews, played with sufficient zeal and charm by Bill Hurlbut, as he interacts with the young business duo of Willy Hightower and Jerry (played by Malcom Stokes and Adrian Vigil) and teaches them “the art of compromise while sticking to your principles”. Hurlbut’s Matty Matthews is a convincing tycoon who has lost touch with the direction of politics. The paper-thin plot highlights the paper-thin democracy the characters live in, where everyone is out of money and ideas, and no one knows which direction to go.

The design is simple yet effective, with black curtains on racks lining upstage, on which various scene-identifiers are laid. A few tables and chairs and some washbins ably transform the space from a bathroom into an office. There seemed to be no sound design, and lights were simply cued, but for a production that focuses on the story, none of these elements were truly missed. The acting from the ensemble was generally a bit stiff and forced, but it usually worked to complement the characters’ desperation.

Matty Matthews calls himself “a fix-it man” and it is fun to see him work the angles of applying language to a bill, and negotiating over the price of influence. The script’s tight dialogue and fast pace hold the show together despite modest acting and bare-bones production.

If you’re in the mood for political intrigue, then definitely check out The Matty Matthews Foundation.

Running time: 50 minutes.

The Matty Matthews Foundation plays through July 27, 2014 at The Warehouse-645 New York Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to their  Capital Fringe page.

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