Posts Tagged ‘John Stahl’

I think I now understand why we’ve only seen one of American playwright Susan-Lori Parks fifteen plays plays here before (not counting the 8th and 9th part of this series and counting the 365 play-a-day series as one!). I found it absolutely tedious.

Set in the early 1860’s during the American Civil War, the play explores the plight of slaves through lead character Hero, slave to a Confederate Colonel, continually referencing Homer’s The Odyssey (another of the slaves is called Homer). Part One is an overlong debate about whether Hero should accompany his master to the war with the promise of freedom if he does (sale or worse if he doesn’t). Despite the fact there are up to nine people on stage, it’s dramatically inert. There is some humour, and the music is great, but that wasn’t enough to ease the tedium for me.

The second part is better. Though there are only three on stage (plus the musician), the debate is more passionate and animated, but it’s still all words and little action. The Colonel has captured a Union soldier and imprisoned him in a makeshift wooden cage. When he’s absent, Hero is tempted by the soldier to change sides and release him, but it doesn’t work. The acting in this part, by Steve Toussaint as Hero, John Stahl as the Colonel and Tom Bateman’s soldier is outstanding, despite the material.

By now, I had been in my seat for almost 110 minutes and I’m afraid the prospect of a further hour drove me out of the door towards a large glass of merlot. It was doing nothing for me. I’m afraid I found it deadly dull, boring and more than a bit frustrating watching such a waste of acting talent. Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be at Parts 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9.

I needn’t say more.

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