Presidential dilemmas

Presidential dilemmas

American Repertory Theater

An exploration of the issues Lyndon B. Johnson faced in 1963

From review by Hairuo Guo, The Tech, 4 Oct 2013

All The Way, written by Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Robert Schenkkan, and starring Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame.

In many ways, it’s a dilemma with circumstances and characters as strange and eclectic as that of Walter White. There’s LBJ, a Southern man who has worked desperately to become president for his entire life, only to have the office thrust upon him in the most unexpected of ways. There’s Martin Luther King Jr., played by actor Brandon J. Dirden, who must hold together a movement that houses different views on the morality of confrontation, and who must also hold together a marriage under pressure — while maintaining a mistress. There’s Michael McKean as J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, who must obey orders of the President by law and yet whose attitude towards racial equality is cool, to say the least — and who sees MLK as a philandering hypocrite. And of course there’s the cast of towering historical figures without which any tale of the era would be incomplete: Stokely Carmichael, Robert McNamara, Strom Thurmond, and Fannie Lou Hamer, among many others.

Dirden’s MLK perhaps lacks some of the calm irreproachability of the real life pastor from Alabama, but he doesn’t fail to summon goose bumps with the power of his speech.