INHERIT THE WIND
by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E Lee.
New Victoria Theatre Etruria Road ST5 0JG To 14 June 2014.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.15pm.
Audio-described 14 June 2.15pm.
Captioned 10 June.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 01782 717962.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 3 June.
A staging reflecting the community where a celebrated trial takes place.
A gripping American drama with a sure-fire court scene, looking back from the 1950s to a moment that brought a small community to national prominence, this jointly-authored story of the 1925 Scopes, or Monkey, trial in Dayton, Tennessee, asks for comparison with Arthur Miller’s 1953 play The Crucible, two years earlier.
Inherit the Wind didn’t have the contemporary resonance Miller found with the anti-Communist ‘witch-hunt’ of post-war America. Yet the ‘Monkey’ trial’s battle between the teaching of Darwinian evolution against creationism, or ‘Intelligent Design’, makes Jerome Lawrence and Robert E Lee’s subject the one reflected in arguments today.
In the twenties, in parts of the USA, literal belief in the Bible’s account of the origins of the earth and of mankind held sway and young teacher John Scopes’ teaching of evolution brought him, by his own intelligent design, into conflict with the law. If there’s little of the complexity of Miller’s characters, this is still an attention-holding account (with names fictionalised) of a case where small-town justice seems incredibly slack.
No wonder Peter Leslie Wild’s in-the-round production places David Bowen’s judge at one side. The crowd’s hero, set-up for audience disapproval, is prosecutor Matthew Harrison Brady. Larger-than-life, he certainly fills the scene in Tom Hodgkins’ exuberant performance. Brady is a performer himself, flattering local sympathies at the picnic laid-out to greet him and in his smiles and complicity at the beliefs he shares with the populace.
His fate is charted in his wife’s warnings about over-indulgence, as a combined assault of calories, enthusiasm and challenge attack him. Hodgkins’ cheerily popular figure is balanced by defender Henry Drummond. He’s as much a showman, in quieter mode, undermining the opposition with quiet barbs of sarcastic wit, and sudden grandstanding moments, caught by Hugh Simon in a thoughtful manner, body hunched in apparent thought.
While the journalist following events stays peripheral to what’s happening, Angela Bain’s quietly efficient radio engineer contrasts the excitement, bringing another kind of science, as the citizens, many played by local community actors create the small-town life with its surface affability and deeper fears of anything challenging its ways.
Mrs Krebs/Radio Woman: Angela Bain.
Dunlap: Adam Barlow.
Judge: David Bowen.
Mayor: Howard Chadwick.
Mrs Blair: Jessica Dyas.
Rachel Brown: Hannah Edwards.
Rev Jeremiah Brown: Steven Elliott.
Mrs Brady: Susie Emmett.
Bertram Cates: Oliver Farnworth.
Tom Davenport: Alec Fellows-Bennett.
E K Hornbeck: Oliver J Hembrough.
Matthew Harrison Brady: Tom Hodgkins.
Elijah: Anthony Hunt.
Meeker: Ged McKenna.
Sillers: David Seddon.
Henry Drummond: Hugh Simon.
Howard: Llewy Hammersley.
Melinda: Sadie Kingsread.
Community company: Evangeline Cooper, Ciaran Edwards, Donald Holford, Moira Hammond, Brenda Hennessey, Matthew Jones, Jill Jones, Sadie Kingstead, Richard Marsden, Elizabeth Nelson, John Parry, Jason Pearce, Rhiannon Pride, Scarlett Sterian, Adam Sutton, Margaret Taylor, Polly-Anna Thorne, Angus Vardy White, Simon Woodcock, Afshin Zarei.
Director: Peter Leslie Wild.
Designer: Dawn Allsopp.
Lighting: Daniella Beattie.
Sound: James Earls-Davis.
Musical Director/Arranger: Malcolm Newton.
Vocal coach: Abigail Langham.
Assistant director: Daniel Bailey.