Robert Beltran Stars In 'The Big Knife'By Tamara
Posted at November 11, 2003 - 12:04 PM GMT
Clifford Odets's The Big Knife, starring Star Trek: Voyager's Robert Beltran (Commander Chakotay) opened at the Lillian Theatre in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
The play centers on Charlie Castle, an aging actor whose past indiscretions have caught up with him. His estranged wife, Marion, pleads with him not to sign a 14-year contract for the sake of their marriage and family. Although he wants to be an artist, not a thing for the masses to inhale, Charlie has no choice but to accept the contact with a studio that doesn't value art, only money. The studio heads know Charlie's dark secret involving murder, infidelity and wrongful imprisonment. Thus begins a domino effect which ultimately brings about grave consequences.
Billed as a "classic play about Hollywood", The Big Knife is filled with plot twists, intrigue and tragedy. I found Odets's writing refreshing. The idea of being a commodity is still strong in a world where the desire to be materially successful is more important than being honest and moral. At times I felt the politics overshadowed the plot, but it was brilliantly compensated by the passion of the cast. Each member, including Trek alumna Rhonda Aldrich (Madeline in TNG's Dixon Hill episodes), portrayed their characters to the full, exposing their values (or lack thereof), and at the center stood Charlie Castle.
Beltran's Castle is tortured and unredeemable. He is the epitome of a Hollywood sell-out and a man lacking the courage and integrity to face responsibilities of his actions. Marion, his wife, and friend, Hank, represent Charlie's moral core. The further he is from it, the more he self destructs, turning to alcohol to mask his pain and disillusionment. Beltran's performance is flawless as he commands the stage for nearly three hours.
Sharing the stage with Beltran is Rita Rehn. Mesmerizing as Marion Castle, Rehn captured my attention from the moment she walked on stage until the lights faded to black, leaving us only with sounds of grief. Rehn took the audience by the hand, walking them through Marion's love for Charlie, her loneliness and one betrayal after another. From a painful abortion to reconciliation to the loss of a man she could not save, Rehn's Marion is not to be missed.
Directed by Tonyo Melendez, The Big Knife is a thought provoking classical piece of American theatre which is timeless as well as timely for a modern Hollywood audience.
The Big Knife runs at the Lillian Theatre until December 14. Ticket information can be found at RobertBeltran.com.
Tamara is a contributor to the Trek Nation.