DC actor Frank Britton stuck around Forum Theatre with his fellow thespians for a few hours Monday after the curtain came down on the first show of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. It was, by most accounts, a routine opening night for actors at the Silver Spring theater, who hung out backstage until the early-morning hours. Britton finally made his farewell shortly before 2 AM, headed to a 7-Eleven store for a late-night snack, and proceeded to a nearby taxi stand for a ride home.
Britton says he was “literally feet away” from a cab when he was assaulted by a group of four or five young men, who pummeled him and stole nearly every personal belonging he had on him, including an iPad, his wallet, his phone, and the bag of food he had just purchased. “This group just walks past me and one sucker-punches me, sends me to the ground, hits me in the face several more times,” Britton tells Washingtonian from his hospital room. “Robs me of everything I have save for my glasses and my hat.”
Witnesses who saw the assault near the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road called the authorities, but a Montgomery County Police spokeswoman says there is no detailed description of the suspects in Britton’s mugging and that no arrests have been made. Britton was taken to nearby Holy Cross Hospital, where he is awaiting surgery to repair a fractured cheekbone. He also suffered a contusion on the back of his head and hemorrhaging around his right eye.
Britton was playing the Roman judge Pontius Pilate in Forum’s revival of Stephen Adly Gurguis’s gospel comedy, which is scheduled to run through June 14. Forum’s artistic director, Michael Dove, says an understudy will take over Britton’s role for the duration, although Britton claims he can make a speedier recovery.
“I just want to get back to my show,” he says.
Members of Washington’s theater community were quick to chime their support for Britton after word of his mugging circulated on Tuesday. As Britton doesn’t have health insurance, friends of his set up a page on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe to help pay for his convalescence. The page blew past its original $3,000 goal within hours, and the total is now over $21,000.
“Jesus, God, that’s amazing,” Britton says when told of the financial support. “It could have been a lot worse. They could have blown me away, but they just broke my face.”