Though history plays have never really been America’s cup of tea, Kirk Wood Bromley has set himself the seemingly impossible task of writing a straightforward dramatic account of the American Revolution— in verse! No, this is
neither a case of lunatic daring nor artistic overreaching,
simply a poetically gifted playwright testing the limits of his own eloquence. While it’s no surprise that The American Revolution falls short of its Shakespearean model in character revelation and lyrical
insight, the work succeeds on the level of verbally vibrant pageantry. How many current writers do you know who could make Benjamin Franklin’s wit sing with such dexterous eccentricity?
The production, directed by Emma Griffin, gives the
raucous energy of the colonists a rock and roll edge. A narrow landscape painting suspended midair sets the otherwise bare stage for George Washington (Sheri Graubert) and his motley army’s hard-fought battle against the tea-taxing madness of George III (humorously
portrayed by Sheila Mitchell
as a kind of lobotomized Grace Jones). Central to the story is Benedict Arnold (a dashing and well-spoken Dan Illian), whose heroic conquests are permanently effaced by one
regrettable moment of selling out to please his Anglophile wife.
Ultimately, the disorderly march to victory, led by bawdy soldiers and longhaired rebels, has less to do with brilliant
military skill than unshakable commitment. The same could be said for the success of the cast, who make up in rowdy verve what they lack in
professional trainingthrough their youthful vitality our
nation’s bloody past is brought
headlong into the present. The
contemporary resonance of this early struggle may not be fully developed, but it’s clear that liberty’s incomplete victories continue to rely on our raw and spirited best.