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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Epilogue Players continues its current season with First Monday in October, the 1978 play by Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee, who are perhaps best known for their Inherit the Wind (1955) and Auntie Mame (1956). The play is a behind the scenes look at the U.S. Supreme Court while imagining the conflicts resulting from a woman being named to the august body for the first time. It was not until 1981, that this actually happened when President Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor to the bench.

Ganza Duprey

Ken Ganza and Veronique Duprey star as Justice Daniel Snow and Justice Ruth Loomis in Epilogue Player’s “First Monday in October”.

The conflict in the story is rooted in a staunch liberal justice, Daniel Snow (played by Ken Ganza), having a battle of ideologies with the new justice, the conservative Ruth Loomis (portrayed by Veronique Duprey). Their disagreements are over legal procedures and principles, and frankly take quite a bit of concentration to keep up with. Mr. Ganza does a respectable job with his role, making Snow an irascible sort of legal genius, used to having his way and to being the smartest man in the room. Ms. Duprey presents a rather haughty and equally smart justice, who feels out of place at first, but quickly finds that she is a voice for the opposition in terms of her dealings with Snow. These two actors work well opposite each other in their lively exchanges about legalities and temperament.

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(From left) Ken Ganza as Justice Daniel Snow and Duane Mercier as Chief Justice Crawford in Epilogue Player’s “First Monday in October”.

The other main characters in the play are Chief Justice Crawford, played with an easy efficiency by Duane Mercier, and Justice Snow’s law clerk Mason Woods, offered in an equally easy fashion by recent IU theatre grad, Ryan Claus. Both offer stabilizing factors in the storyline, mostly to quell the more forceful side of Snow. The six other justices appear from time to time in minor roles, although Mike Harold does a fine job as Snow’s direct adversary, Justice Webb.

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(From left) Ryan Claus as law clerk Mason Woods and Veronique Duprey as Justice Ruth Loomis in Epilogue Player’s “First Monday in October”.

As mentioned, the plot, while interesting, can be a bit difficult to follow – at least, it was at times for me. It was hard to grasp, in the face of recent events, that Justice Loomis, who had worked on the 9th Circuit Court in California, was the conservative in the story. I believe some of my confusion might have simply been due to the evolution of political terms and of the ideological standards of these divisive factions. The actors all do an exemplary job playing the script as written, but these political changes added to the necessity for my increased concentration.

Supremes

The cast of Epilogue Player’s “First Monday in October”.

Bottom line: this is a challenging play, as much for the audience as for the players. Half entertainment, half course in legalities – one does come away with a lot to think about.

First Monday in October continues through May 21st. Reservations and ticket information is available by calling 317.926.3139 or online at http://www.epilogueplayers.com.

 

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