Upon being released from prison for a crime that is later revealed, Percy (short for Perchance) decides to move to the small town of Gilead based solely on the photo of the fall colors along the creek she finds in a newspaper, and the desire to make a fresh start somewhere new. Local Sheriff Joe acts as her parole officer and sets her up with a room and a job at the Spitfire Grill, run by Hannah, who begrudgingly agrees. Percy also meets Hannah's nephew Caleb and his wife Shelby, and mail carrier/town busybody Effy. She soon learns that small-town life is not as idyllic as that newspaper photo makes it out to be, with residents suffering from grief, abuse, and the longing to get out. But Percy also learns, perhaps for the first time in her life, what it is to be part of a community, to be needed, to experience trust and friendship. As is often the case in these fish-out-of-water stories, Percy is the catalyst for change in this community that has been stuck in a rut for too long.
|Christy Jones, Martha Wigmore, and Katharine Strom|
(photo by Michael Traynor)
|James Ehlenz and Katharine Strom (photo by Michael Traynor)|
Gabriel Gomez's scenic design brings the beautiful Midwest fall outdoors inside the theater. The only indoor set is, appropriately, the charming and rustic Grill, with about half the stage filled with trees and leaves and representations of nature, an important character in the play. Adam Raine's lighting design casts a warm glow on the cast and the town of Gilead, making it a place you'll wish you could visit.
The Spitfire Grill reminds me a little of the musical Violet, and that's a very good thing. Both feature Americana music and a small cast and band, and tell the story of a young woman on a quest to heal her past and make a new start for a better future, positively affecting those she meets along the way. This is a story of friendship, of healing, of second chances, of community, of forgiveness. In this cynical time, it is indeed a balm to escape for a few hours into the simpler world of Gilead, where there are troubles aplenty, but where hard work, friendship, and community offer a chance for hope and healing. (Playing now through November 1.)