Belmont Avenue Social Club
THE STORY: A corrupt councilman has just died, leaving a city council seat to be filled. Fran, head of the all-White 51st political ward, chooses Tommy—an all around good guy, party loyalist and, most important, close friend of the deceased—to fill the seat. He chooses him above Doug, a well-educated, fast-talking, up-and-comer with strong support from the area’s growing black districts. Doug has been waiting for this post for years, and when the opportunity arises to reveal a past indiscretion of Tommy’s, he takes it, under the guise of saving Tommy embarrassment in the public eye. Politics is an intricate system however, and Fran sees Doug’s ploy as betrayal, after the many years of support. Fran tricks Doug into revealing his true feelings about power and black and white politics, the catch being that Doug was caught on tape. Doug’s threats to reveal the closed-door workings of the ward become moot when Fran holds the damaging tape. A black “outsider” is then picked to fill the spot, signaling not only a change in the ward, but a change in the future.
Written in the salty, untempered language of big-city politics, this play about white male privilege, power and betrayal blends humor and inspired wisdom. “…an old-fashioned rapid-fire comedy about back-room politics, Chicago-style. It’s the kind of play that has good guys and bad guys, with lines the audience spontaneously applauds.” —Life Newspaper. “…crackles with suspense…When you find [a play] with the color and impetus of this one, you sit up and take notice.” —Philadelphia Inquirer.