By Wendy Rosenfield
For the Inquirer
Before New City Stage Company’s return engagement of RFK begins, Ren Manley’s collection of vintage black and white commercials and film clips, projected onto an onstage wall, sets the scene. There’s an obituary reel for Marilyn Monroe -- that favorite of Bobby’s big brother Jack -- as well as an ad touting the luxury of oil heat and Don Knotts schooling the young Ron Howard about tough-guy behavior. When the lights dim, we hear the unmistakable muffled pop of a television’s button turning off.
There’s no shortage of nostalgia tripping in this production, with even more evocative assists by Procol Harum, Jefferson Airplane and other bands from the era. The multimedia effects work both on boomers, who remember exactly where they were when they heard the terrible news, and younger audiences living through their own era of dashed hopes and undeclared wars.
Jack Holmes’ script traces its way through Robert Kennedy’s final four years, after his brother’s assassination and during his run for the New York Senate, the births of the last two of his 11 children, his presidential bid, and the moment of his untimely death. Holmes portrays Bobby as an insecure but loyal little brother who finally found his purpose when he stepped out of JFK’s shadow and aligned himself with civil rights leaders to fight poverty and racial injustice.