This season at the Public has been, intense. White Noise, Ain't No Mo', and Sea Wall/A Life were all thought provoking, but hard to watch. This made Socrates quite refreshing. It was certainly intelligent and thoughtful in it's execution, but it was also a fairly straightforward historical play.
In case you missed it, this play tells the life story of the titular character, Socrates. It's primarily told from the perspective of Plato, one of his students, although Socrates claimed he had none.
The show presents Socrates as a neither a hero nor a villain. In fact it does a thorough job of convincing us he's nothing more than a very intelligent pain in the ass. In every interaction he digs in with more invasive questions until his subject gets so frustrated they lash out.
It was fascinating to watch, because we've all dealt with someone like this in our lives. A character who is "just asking a question," but is either being intentionally or unintentionally offensive. In fact Socrates reminded me of some of the most difficult engineers I've come across in my career.
While the play is telling us the story of a very difficult man, it manages to pose important questions about the nature of democracy. Many we simply can't answer.
Is the person most fit to lead the same one who gets elected? Why is rhetoric so important in politics but useless when actual skill is necessary? And, does Democracy allow for mobs to act with anonymity?
Much like the questions Socrates asks individuals these are all difficult to answer. The audience is left to ponder these after the show.
Overall I'd definitely recommend Socrates. While it doesn't challenge the audience like some of the other productions, it's enjoyable and provides thought provoking questions with a history lesson.