What do you get when you cross the old world and way of life with a new and liberated life immediately? You get America immediately after the defeat of the confederates after General Lee surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant. Here is where the story of the Whipping Man starts, and here also is where it ends. The Whipping Man is a powerful, and thought provoking piece of theatre that every man, woman and child needs to see. The moral at the end is to never think yourself better or higher than the man standing next to you.
The Whipping man is a play performed by three actors, two actors portray newly freed Slaves in the Deep South, Simon and John, and the other is the returning confederate soldier son of their now former master, Caleb. The really interesting part of this story is not the conflict and tension of the freedom issue, but rather that Caleb and his family are Jewish. Not only are they Jewish, but they taught their slaves the Torah, and the traditions of the Jewish Faith. The real gem in all of this is that Simon and John have more faith in Jehovah than Caleb does. In the end the tension rises along with the secrets of the dirty south and change all of their lives and relationships forever, all around the Seder dinner of Passover.
The acting in City Theatre’s production is beyond compare! Robert Pellette who plays Simon is a gifted story teller creating a character that is full of life, emotion, and interest who is still able to hold on to secrets and reveal them only when the time is right! John played by Richard R. Romeo offers great moments of comic relief that is needed after some of the intense and difficult parts of dialogue, and yet despite his comic abilities is still taken serious in the moments of truth. Lastly Andrew Bosworth as Caleb does an excellent job considering he is confined to a chair for a large majority of the show. His use of accent and dialect is superb the perfect, Southern, Jewish accent.
The scenic design by Andy Berkovsky is simple but effective and the costumes by Bert Flanagan, are beautiful and truly period perfect. The real piece de resistance of the production aspects is the sound design Scot Friedman. Stacey Glazer did a fantastic job as director by pulling together a spectacular cast, and an excellent design team to create a moving, living breathing piece of art.
I give this show 5 out of 5 stars, this Austin is how theatre it done!