Pathos, chaos and humor in play about how terrorist plot leads to global violence

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Photo courtesy TheatreWorks Silicon Valley

Playwright Rajiv Joseph brings us into a dark world of incomprehension  and  ineptness  in his play about three poor  young  Serbian rebels looking for a possible job to find out that they have been called upon to take part in the assassinate of Archduke Franz  Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie which eventually started World War I.

Director  Giovanna Sardelli skillfully moves her fine actors into unbending positions into areas they really don’t know what they are getting into. Stephen Stocking, Jeremy  Kahn and Adam Shonkwiler brilliantly play the three naive  confused young men that have been told they only have a few months to live because they have Tuberculoses with nothing to lose. They are brought to the home of  Dragutin “Apis” Dimtrijevic ( a superb Scott Coopwood) and his  tempermental housekeeper and cook Sladjana, ( a delightful Luisa Sermol)   be  given food and  the basic training with some idea of what is going on. They are at first appalled at the idea but the offering of  “sandwiches”,  pudding and a train ride to their destination gets them on a fast track and the plot goes forward. Oh and by the way Joseph brings this all together with some  humorous dialogue.

All sounds deeply odd and confounding – it is –  but interesting and well done. When you stop to think about it you can almost parallel  how some people can be drawn into terroristic plots in our time with rabble-rousing, inflammatory misinformation and propaganda..


Tim Mackabee’s train compartment set is fine work as is Dawn Chiang’s lighting.


Archduke will take  us to a time most of us have not thought about or even remember – but it will sure make you think.


Archduke closes  this TheatreWorks 49th season with the Northern California premier of this production.


Archduke info


Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts

500 Castro Street. Mountain View


Through: June 30


Running time: 2 hours and 30 minutes


Tickets: $40.-$100


Reservations and information: (650) 463-1960

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Camille Bounds

Theater Columnist at Gilroy Life
Camille Bounds is the theater columnist for the Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy LIfe newspapers. She has performed on Broadway and traveled around the world. She can be reached at: bounds17@gmail,com
Camille Bounds