This play is difficult to describe because of the huge cast of characters, the several decades of history it covers, and the mythology it presents. It feels like a Greek tragedy, in which the characters are destined, or cursed by the gods, to live these difficult, troubled, and interconnected lives. The main character bears a birthmark of a white sun on his chest, and is told that he cannot be killed except by blood (spoiler alert). We witness the establishment of Freetown by a group of Seminoles and free blacks in 1833, the flourishing of the town and its hard working people, the devastation that comes with a drought and wars, and the ultimate redemption and hope as rain comes again after tragedy.
|Number Two (Ansa Akyea) and
Trowbridge (Jake Waid)
The world of Freetown is successfully created by the sparse set (by Dean Holzman), with just a few suggestions of trees, the town well, and wooden crates to sit or stand on. The costumes are beautiful, with full layered dresses for the women, dandy suits for some of the men in town, and more traditional Seminole garb. The cast makes full use of the intimate space at Pillsbury House, including the aisles and the back of the theater; it's a 360 degree experience.
the road weeps, the well runs dry is an ambitious and epic new play, and perfect for Pillsbury House Theatre that often produces work that is challenging to the audience. Whenever I see a Pillsbury House production, it's never just a pleasant, nice night out at the theater. Challenging, awkward, difficult, but always thoroughly engaging and rewarding. At the end of the play there's a rain dance to end the long drought, and whatever they were doing on that stage worked. When I left the theater it was raining like it hadn't rained in months. By the time I got to my car I was soaked and freezing, but it somehow felt appropriate, like it was part of the experience to be cleansed by the waters that Horse Power called down upon us all. Playing through the end of the month, I can't guarantee rain, but I can guarantee a fascinating and epic experience.