ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
A CurtainUp Berkshire Review
The Amish Project
Dickey's seven character play was inspired by the real-life hostage taking of young Amish school girls in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in October 2006. Five girls were murdered and the gunman, a local milk man then turned the gun on himself. Though Dickey has mined the incident for facts, she has fictionalized the characters, changed names and confessed to never having interviewed anyone. This is her imagined response to such a shocking incident and its aftermath.
Dickey creates the opportunity for a one-woman tour de force as seven disparate characters including two young Amish victims, a college professor, the gunman and his wife, a non-Amish local woman and a Hispanic grocery clerk shape shift through artistry of Allison McLemore's chameleon-like transformations. She imbues each character with an entirely different personality by employing a slight change in accent, attitude, stance or tone. In a split second she transforms so adeptly that not a beat is lost in the seamless narrative of the story.
The play's lyrical prose see-saws from flashes of humor to bitterness, anger and poignant confusion. Dickey studies the result of devastating loss in a divided community and on its victims. The central characters are joined by peripheral community members who, through their own narrative, are an integral part of a larger story. Somehow each one's life touches another in one surprising way or another.
McLemore's luminous and expressive face conveys each character's intensely personal relationship to the larger catastrophe, in a way that the audience is in thrall to the rapid fire morphing they are witness to. She compels us to listen, even to the murderer, or the hateful outsider with the same respectful attention as to Carol, the shocked wife, or Velda the adorable, enthusiastic Amish child. America, the pregnant sixteen-year-old grocery clerk's story is just as compelling and shows how each of our littler human dramas contribute to the great mystery of human existence. Bill North, the professor, serves as a vehicle of exposition and sanity with quiet authority.
Never has John Donne's "No man is an island. . ." resonated more than in the interweaving of these people's lives. Dickey's theme on the nature of forgiveness and reconciliation amidst the tragedy of violence and hatred is not only a theatrical but a soul-searching experience.
Kramer's effective staging and McLemore's emotional acrobatics are enhanced by Travis A. George's set design and James Mcnamara's lighting. The production values enrich the performance in this very profound exploration into the human psyche.