A country, a culture, falls into an easy narrative about a shared historical event and replays it until it becomes a rut. By now, we all know Watergate is a story about brave journalists and a corrupt presidency. Huge credit goes to Gangbusters Theatre Co. for breaking out of the narrative and mounting this workshop production of MEANTIME AT HOJO’s about some of the people damaged most by Richard Nixon’s paranoia: the Plumbers.
Christian Levatino (who also wrote the play) delivers a performance of the Watergate break-in’s architect, G. Gordon Liddy, that’s as idiosyncratic as the man himself. Darrett Sanders deftly carries the moral center of the production in his portrayal of an uneasy E. Howard Hunt. As the doomed burglary begins, the two clash in a scene as electrifying as it is sad, neither able to stop to machinery that will ensnare and ruin them. A crackling good cast illuminates the rest of the Plumbers as men misled, most yearning to return to a life in Cuba that the events of that evening will permanently tear away from them.
Unlike what our history narrative sometimes infers, Richard Nixon was never a tragic figure. He got what he deserved. The real tragedy of Watergate is dramatized in MEANTIME AT HOJO’s.