Often, politics isn’t as it seems. “Warrior Class,” an intimate, three character play by “House of Cards”writer Kenneth Lin, hones in on convoluted behind-the-scenes political dealings through the fictional Republican House of Representatives candidate Julius Lee.
Lee, who has been dubbed “the Republican Obama,” finds himself quickly gaining popularity after a sensational speech. Just as quickly, though, an ex-girlfriend Holly threatens to derail his newfound aspirations.
We spoke with Michael Tow, who plays Julius, about his character’s dealings with Holly, coming to terms with the backstabbing nature of politics and how “Warrior Class”relates to this fall’s presidential election.
Why is Holly making Julius’ new life in politics so difficult?
I guess back in college, [she said] I stalked her. I was a crazy ex-boyfriend kind of thing. I don’t think so but, as I say in the play, I had a different view of it. So I haven’t seen her in so many years, but for me to get to the next level on the national stage, I need to confront my past. This [political] handler has to help set it up. We have a lot of back-and-forth stuff that she wants and otherwise, all this stuff could go public.
Julius has to make some tough choices during the campaign. How do you think he makes them?
He’s coming in pretty green and [has] lofty goals. Trying to do the right thing and do good in the role. But as he gets more and more connected and understanding the way things work in politics, he’s realizing that it’s that not that easy. There’s a lot of sacrifice and give and take. If you want something, you kind of have to give a little bit.
What will the most difficult part of playing Julius be?
The part I’m really interested in exploring is that outward demeanor and the outward appearance of someone who’s got it all together, but internally is a personal who’s dealing with major demons. Getting that balance will be the hardest part for me.
How do you keep a play about the intricacies of politics engaging?
It’s just focusing to make sure that each of these characters has their own struggles, their own needs. They have certain goals that they want. And they’re really going to do whatever they can to get what they want — whether it’s to move their career, whether or not it’s to save their family. I think that friction and that sly back and forth trying to get what they want will be the way to keep the most people engaged.
How do you think “Warrior Class”helps illuminate what’s going on in national politics today?
It gives a great perspective on what is happening now in the political arena. When you see an endorsement here, or you see why did the candidate say this or how come they don’t come out and say something negative. There might be so much behind the scenes that could be happening. This play gives an insight to that world.
If you go:
Lyric Stage Company of Boston
October 21 to November 13
140 Clarendon St.
Tickets from $33