Though I wouldn’t lay any bets on the future of Benedict Arnold Magnet High School, Richard Nelson’s play makes strides toward rehabilitating the character of America’s most notorious traitor. Arnold, whose daring exploits in the Battle of Saratoga may put him second only to Washington in individual contribution to the colonists’ victory, is perhaps this country’s most Shakespearian historical personage. Nelson captures the complex of issues that pushed Arnold toward the British, including most notably the rebellion’s increasing intolerance and religious fervor. But he stops short of fully delineating the conflict within the man; the second act, featuring the actual act of betrayal and its aftermath, becomes almost perfunctory. Timeline has given Arnold’s story a solid production, featuring a meticulous design by Brian Sidney Bembridge. Terry Hamilton’s Arnold is a rough-hewn soldier, barking out his contempt for politicians and hiding his ultimate disappointments behind a stiff mask. He’s ably complemented by David Parkes’s gruff Washington; while he may not achieve the thorough reimagining of the Father of our Country available in Cox and Combes’s YouTube hit, this irascible general seems never to have met a cherry tree he wouldn’t enjoy cutting down. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.