The Peculiar Patriot

by Clinton Campbell

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday October 22, 2018

Liza Jessie Peterson in "The Peculiar Patriot."
Liza Jessie Peterson in "The Peculiar Patriot."  

ArtsEmerson continues their legacy of socially aware programming with "The Peculiar Patriot." Liza Jessie Peterson's one-person show that takes an unflinching look at America's prison system.

Drawn from Ms. Peterson's years of experiences in working with the incarcerated, it is work that is both heartbreaking as well as surprisingly funny at times.

The show centers on the character of Betsy LaQuanda Ross who spends much of her time visiting friends and family at various prisons. Though outside the system she seems to be just as caught in it as the prisoners.

Ms. Peterson is a natural storyteller and she manages to convey a startling amount of information about how our prison system works without lecturing.

This work would serve as a nice companion piece to Anna Deavere Smith's "Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education" that premiered at A.R.T in 2016 and focused on the school to prison pipeline.

"The Peculiar Patriot" is timely, enlightening, but perhaps most importantly - moving.

There are so many things going on in our nation that need to be fixed. Educating ourselves about them is the first step to addressing them. "The Peculiar Patriot" is a good place to start.

"The Peculiar Patriot" continues through October 28 at the Emerson Paramount Center, Jackie Liebergott Black Box, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA. For more information, visit the ArtsEmerson website.