Reviewed by David Kashimba

Marin Theatre is currently showing Sockdology, a play written by Jeffrey Hatcher and directed by David Dower. The play is set at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. in April 1865. It’s the time and place that the actor John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.

It was a chaotic time, not unlike what our country experienced recently on September 11. Though partly based on history, Hatcher takes us on an imaginative journey of what might have happened on stage and back stage before and after the shooting. In the play, Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s secretary of war, leads an investigation into a possible actor conspiracy and questions all the actors who had performed for the president. Will Marchetti plays Stanton, who had urged the president not to attend the performance due to security concerns.

The investigation becomes an interesting study of society’s love/hate relationship with actors. Marchetti and Amy Resnick, who plays the popular actress Laura Keene, get all the best lines. When Marchetti, one of the best actors in Bay Area theatre, delivers his deadpan criticism of actors, the audience can’t help but sense the subtle irony in his tone. When he says “actors” it’s like he’s spitting on the stage. Though he knows a few lines from Hamlet, Stanton confesses that he’s never seen it, only read it. When asked, “Why?” by Keene he says: “Life is short. Hamlet is long.” Later Keene replies to a question by Stanton on why actors do what they do: “We act to feel what is denied to us in life’s day to day.” The blows go back and forth making this interrogation the most interesting of them all.

But the entire cast does a great job trying to prove their innocence in a time when all actors were thought to be assassins. Again, it’s not a far leap to what Muslims have had to face since September 11. Though we never see Lincoln or Booth, we see an interesting array of on stage and back stage scenes that help tell the actor’s stories on that fateful night.

Watch for that unusual word used for the title of this drama, because the president is shot right after one of the actors says a line using sockdology – which means a finishing blow in a boxing match.

Don’t miss this interesting night of theatre within theatre. It gives new meaning to Hamlet’s, “the play is the thing.” For tickets or more information call (415) 388-5208 or visit

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