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'City of Conversation' charts the death of collaboration in Washington

If genuine bipartisanship had an official expiration date, it may have been sometime around 1979.

In that year, as the regiments of the Reagan Revolution organized themselves into a formidable political force and Jimmy Carter’s presidency inched painfully past the halfway mark, it was still commonplace for political foes to broker serious back-room deals. And one of those nicely appointed back rooms is the setting for Anthony Giardina’s 2014 play “The City of Conversation,” which takes audiences on a guided tour through the three-decade decline of cross-party collaboration.

It opens Friday in the Kavinoky Theatre in a production directed by Robert Waterhouse and starring Debbie Pappas Sham, Aleks Malejs, Adriano Gatto and Kristen Tripp Kelley.

Chosen for its searing contemporary relevance to the ongoing political debate, the play also has taken on an added layer of modern meaning in the wake of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s recent death. The show, among other issues, concerns Ronald Reagan’s controversial late-term nomination of Robert Bork, who was rejected by the Senate in 1987.

“The play could not be more timely,” Waterhouse said, “though the contest over the nomination of a Supreme Court justice leads the characters in the play to battle for high, personal stakes that force us to examine our choices – and our motives – very carefully.”

Tickets are $42. Call 829-7668 or visit kavinokytheatre.com.

Email Colin Dabkowski at cdabkowski@buffnews.com

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