Jason Odell Williams’s Church and State, which opened tonight at New World Stages is witty, smart, timely, with a political candidate that everyone would have voted for. Here, the moral struggle between faith and life is waged and ultimately the issue is about gun control. It shows both sides and manages to subtly turn the tables in a surprising turn of events. Church and State, will leave you deeply entertained, but will stimulate your brain, so that will still be hashing over what was said. Make sure you bring a person you love to have deep talks with.
The play begins backstage at a North Carolina political rally, where incumbent U.S. Senatorial candidate Charles Whitmore (Rob Nagle) has escape from his wife and campaign manager. He is trying to clear his head, but since he is scheduled to appear in just minutes Alex Klein (Christa Scott-Reed), his Jewish New York liberal campaign manager and his God believing trophy Southern wife, Sara (Nadia Bowers) (think “Designing Women” meets Steel Magnolias) enter. It turns out Senator Whitmore has had a crises of faith due to his feelings about a recent local grade school shooting. When a local blogger interviews him at the funeral, he states “How could I believe in a God who would let this happen?” The blogger tweets his statements and the story starts to go viral. Alex and Sara find common ground and united to help save the election, but the Senator has other plans and goes rouge.
After his speech he wins the election by a landslide and Alex and Sara see this going all the way to the Oval Office. Then things change and that’s when this show becomes highly interesting.