Tuesday, July 23

Kunstler – White Bear Theatre

Riotous, engaging, and will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Jeffrey Sweet’s Kunstler is making its European Premier at The White Bear Theatre from 1st May.

Prepare to be mesmerized by a remarkable performance from Broadway star Jeff McCarthy, who brings Kunstler to life with his impeccable mannerisms, sharp wit, and characteristic humour. The play, set with dialogue only between two actors on stage, masterfully brings to life a litany of American freedom Politics. Nykila Norman and Jeff McCarthy’s exchanges are a dance of intellect and wit as they spar over the critical cases Kunstler took up. The dialogue adds depth and tension to the narrative, keeping the audience engaged and intrigued.

It is no mean feat to bring to the stage the life of William Moses Kunstler, a prolific socialist, American attorney and civil rights activist whose cases put the very values of the vague American constitution on trial. The play recreates through dialogue the monumental cases he took on serving the political objectives of his clients. From sanitation workers Martin Luther King, Black Panthers, and The Chicago Seven, he recognised that the judicial system’s machinery punished those that power hated. Kunstler had a reputation for outspoken opposition to war, racism, and political repression.

The play, however, misses naming that Kunstler refused to defend right-wing groups, such as the Minutemen, because “I only defend those whose goals I share. I’m not a lawyer for hire. I only defend those I love.’ The irony of the play being set when Kustler is giving a talk while students are asking for his boycott should not be lost. The Columbian students are asking for divestment in present-day encampments on campus. Kunstler’s (2004) essay on ‘The Emerging Police State: Resisting Illegitimate Authority’ is more relevant than ever. One can hope that his legacy allows for more young lawyers to question the state rather than dilute bias as another kind of racism. One can hope the play will lead to critical reading and discussion, connecting Kunstler’s life work to removing the thin veil on American Imperialism and injustice against minorities.

Playing until 18th May, https://www.whitebeartheatre.co.uk/whatson/kunstler

Reviewer: Anisha Pucadyil

Reviewed: 4th May 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.