Courtesy photoPun Bandhu and Delia MacDougall play old college flames negotiating a tough new issue in TheatreWorks’ production of “Warrior Class.”

Courtesy photoPun Bandhu and Delia MacDougall play old college flames negotiating a tough new issue in TheatreWorks’ production of “Warrior Class.”

‘Warrior Class’ a pointed political drama

Two plotlines intersect and lead inexorably toward an intense finale in Kenneth Lin’s three-character political drama, “Warrior Class,” now receiving a California premiere at TheatreWorks.

Ambitious young East Coast Assemblyman Julius Lee, a first- generation Chinese-American, former Marine and gifted speechmaker known as the “Republican Obama,” is gearing up to run for Congress.

In the first plotline, which is the most interesting and accessible of the two, his potential candidacy — promoted by older, more experienced political adviser Nathan — is thrown into jeopardy when a college girlfriend, Holly, materializes.

Holly refuses to vet her old boyfriend. When she broke up with him 20 years ago, he stalked her for a while. She was terrified of him and can’t envision him as a stable person, let alone a congressman. For reasons of her own she is seizing the opportunity to blackmail him.

Written (and acted) with mindful attention to all the ambiguities involved, it’s a thought-provoking scenario.

In the other plotline, Nathan is guiding the somewhat naive and idealistic Julius through a morass of political maneuverings: the tit-for-tat, you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours, sleazy deal-making that characterizes politics among the “warrior class.”

That plotline involves lots of talk, some of which feels like filler dialogue, with many names tossed around of offstage people — O’Brien, Hollister and more — and fraught references to the lobbying and wheeling-and-dealing of special-interest groups that threaten to upend Julius’ goals.

The latter plotline provides context in that it indicates the larger American political picture that playwright Lin is examining. Still, those scenes, which take place in Julius’ kitchen, might work better in a TV show with lots of close-ups, and with the two men talking while walking down long corridors or engaged in realistic physical activities (Lin is also an accomplished TV writer, including for “House of Cards” on Netflix).

Here, however, they are rather awkwardly staged by director Leslie Martinson and are confusing and stilted.

More satisfying are the scenes between Nathan and Holly, and Julius and Holly. All three characters have affecting backstories that gradually come to light, packed with tension and emotion.

Under Martinson’s carefully calibrated direction, the actors — Pun Bandhu and Robert Sicular as Julius and Nathan, respectively, and Delia MacDougall as the tough former law student Holly — mine every last nuance of the script. No bad guys here — just three needy, striving people caught in a queasy moral dilemma.

REVIEW

Warrior Class

Presented by TheatreWorks

Where: Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays; closes Nov. 3

Tickets: $19 to $73

Contact: (650) 463-1960, www.theatreworks.orgartsKenneth LinTheatreWorksWarrior Class

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs spoke to San Francisco’s new Guaranteed Income Advisory Group on April 16. (Courtesy SFGOV)
City launches task force to explore Universal Basic Income programs

San Francisco on Friday launched a guaranteed income task force that could… Continue reading

Muni’s K-Ingleside line will return six months earlier than previously announced. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
K-Ingleside train to return on May 15

Announcement comes on the heels of pressure from Supervisor Myrna Melgar

Demonstrators march from Mission High School towards the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Vigil, march honors those killed by police

Deaths of Daunte Wright, Roger Allen and others prompt renewed calls for defunding

A Recology employee stands at the comapany’s recycling facility on Pier 96 in 2016. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)
Nuru scandal: Feds charge second former Recology executive with bribery

A second former Recology executive is facing charges for allegedly bribing ex-Public… Continue reading

Skier Andy Padlo crosses a frozen Spicer Reservoir. (Courtesy photo)
Stormy weather tests skiers’ mettle on Dardanelle traverse

Overcoming challenges makes outings more rewarding

Most Read