Entertainment » Theatre

Inherit the Wind

by Joe Siegel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Oct 9, 2018
A scene from Attleboro Community Theatre's production of "Inherit the Wind."
A scene from Attleboro Community Theatre's production of "Inherit the Wind."  

Considering the turbulent political climate we are enduring, it was a wise decision by Attleboro Community Theatre to present the classic "Inherit the Wind," loosely based on the real-life Scopes/Monkey trial.

The battle between religious faith and science, which is at the heart of the play, remains as timely and relevant as ever.

The setting is a small Southern town in the 1920s. Teacher Bertram Cates (well-played by Bob Lively) has been put on trial for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution to his students.

Matthew Harrison Brady, a former presidential candidate, is the attorney for the prosecution. Brady is a devoutly religious man who charms the townsfolk and meets his match in Henry Drummond, who defends Cates.

Cates' impressionable fiancée Rachel (Caitlyn Lively) is the daughter of Reverend Brown (Matt Zawasky), who rails against blasphemy and hopes Cates will be punished for his crimes.

Paul Nolette is mesmerizing as Drummond challenges the residents of Hillsboro to open their minds to new ideas.

Drummond shocks the courtroom when he puts Brady on the witness stand and reveals the absurdity of placing all your trust in the Bible. He says that Cates is reviled not because of his teaching that men may have been descended from apes, but for allowing his students to explore new concepts.

Paul Tourville delivers a strong performance as Brady, who is not a cartoonish, one-dimensional villain. Brady has shut himself off from any idea which threatens his belief system.

Drummond and Brady are opponents in court, but Drummond has tremendous respect for a man he knows has lost his way. This is powerful material and Nolette and Tourville bring depth and humanity to these characters.

Matthew Moos is also excellent as the showboating journalist E.K. Hornbeck, who covers the trial for the Baltimore Sun.

Director Kelli Tallman, along with set designers Doug Greene, Dave Blessinger and Nolette created a mini-village that surrounds the audience. The attention to detail is truly impressive, especially the courthouse set where much of the action occurs.

"Inherit the Wind" depicts a society afraid of being asked to think for themselves. What is most notable is the decline in Catholic Church attendance over the past decade. Younger people especially feel increasingly alienated from organized religion and are looking for other avenues to find spiritual guidance.

Reverend Brown has such a powerful influence on the townspeople and his daughter. In a way, he is the true antagonist, not Brady.

Now that our Supreme Court is dominated by conservatives in the Trump era, will religious beliefs take precedence over science? Over objective truth? "Inherit the Wind" is a powerful drama as well as a call to arms.

Who will defend our basic humanity and fight for people's rights? Henry Drummond is the voice of reason who fights to save a man's life as well as the freedom to express ideas. Tallman and her cast and crew have created an intelligent and thought-provoking entertainment.

"Inherit the Wind" runs through October 21 at Attleboro Community Theatre. 71 North Main St., Attleboro. For tickets, go to AttleboroCommunityTheatre.com or call 508-226-8100.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.


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