Timeless Classic Opens at Town and Country: INHERIT THE WIND

by Walter Bender

Town and Country Players in Bucking ham opened its latest offering, INHERIT THE WIND by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee. This is the classic tale centered around the Scopes Monkey Trial, where a teacher was tried for teaching Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in defiance of a state law. The real trial showcased the famed orators William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow as prosecutor and defense attorney, with H. L. Menken among the many reporters in attendance. INHERIT THE WIND uses the backdrop of this famous trial as an allegory to criticize McCarthy-ism and to tout the rights of the individual to think for himself.

(L to R): DeLarme Landes (as Henry Drummond) and Alyssa Farrell (as Rachel Brown) in a scene from Town and Country Players' INHERIT THE WIND, playing in Buckingham PA through November 20.

Director John Zimmerman has assembled a very fine (and very large) cast. DeLarme Landes and Dave Swartz portray Henry Drummond and Matthew Harrison Brady respectively.  Swartz portrays Brady as the man who is used to the public eye, giving speeches at any occasion. Landes’ Drummond is more understated, yet has a fiery determination punctuated by very robust gestures. The conflict between these two is the crux of the play. The highlight of the production is when Drummond calls Brady to the stand as an expert on the Bible…the verbal parrying between the two is excellent. Other characters of note are Andy O’Neil as E. K. Hornbeck, the reporter from Baltimore who is the cynical voice of the people (at least in his own mind,) John Neuman as Bertram Cates (the defendant) who is unsure of his crime yet determined to see the trial to its conclusion, Alyssa Farrell as Rachel Brown, friend to Cates and daughter to the town’s religious leader, Rev. Jeremiah Brown (played with great intensity by Marc Shule.) There is a large ensemble and a number of other characters that add to this production.

Director Zimmerman has a lot of experience with larger casts, as he is primarily a director of musicals. As such, his crowd scenes are very well done, with everyone in the ensemble involved in the action and always “in the moment.” The scenes with fewer characters (as in the “showdown” between Drummond and Brady) would benefit from a bit of a slower pace to allow the characters to react more naturally to the ebb and flow of the interaction. However, the show is very well paced as a rule, and the intensity builds nicely through the production to its climax.

The set is sparse, yet is a very accurate depiction of a rural court, with rough-hewn tables and seating. The costumes are all beautiful, transporting both cast and audience to the period of the play.

Overall, this is a very good interpretation of this classic show. As it continues on its run, I expect the intensity will continue to grow, and it should be quite a feast for the eyes and ears. Congratulations to the Town and Country Players for an excellent production.

by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee
Directed by John Zimmerman
November 5 – 20, 2010
Town and Country Players
4158 York Road
Buckingham, PA

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