By Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Directed by Steve Pickering
At Oak Park Festival Theatre
Inherit The Wind is still a relevant cautionary tale in 21st Century America
Oak Park Festival Theatre has mounted a strong warning against suffocating free thinking with religious dogma with Inherit the Wind, a 1955 drama penned by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. Many will remember the 1960 film with Spencer Tracy and Fredric Marsh and Gene Kelly that drew from the famous 1925 Scopes trial in Tennessee concerning the teaching of evolution in the public schools. National figures Clarence Darrow, a civil liberties attorney and founder of the ACLU and William Jennings Bryan, a fundamentalist Christian and populist three time Democratic Presidential candidate argued the case that pitted fundamental Christian believes versus pure science. Today’s version pits evolution versus “Intelligent Design.” History does repeat.
Inherit The Wind at Oak Park Festival Theatre. The debate between Christensen’s Brady and Hickey’s Drummond is most compelling as Christensen exudes charisma while his outdated and narrow sociopolitical beliefs are destroyed by Hickey’s Drummond. This is a marvelously written work that hits the difference between the free thinking scientist and the narrow minded bigotry of the fundamentalist Christians. The play is fictionalized version of the actual trial in 1925.
Shannan Parr as the local preacher and Kimberly Logan as the cynical newspaper reporter add spice to the piece. Inherit the Wind is a cautionary tale reminding us to be vigilant in protecting our freedom of thought in a time of religious fanaticism. Well stage and directed (by Steve Pickering) the large ensemble serves the production nicely by giving an authentic, down-home feel to the dramatic court room drama. This play works well in the scenic outdoor setting in Oak Park. Bring your lawn chair and picnic foods and enjoy a worthy cautionary tale that, unfortunately, is still a worry in today’s America.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: June 24, 2012
For more info checkout the Inherit The Wind page at theatreinchicago.com
At Oak Park Festival Theatre, 157 Forest Ave., Oak park, IL, call 708-445-4440, www.oakparkfestival.com, tickets $2- -$25, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 7 pm, running time is 2hours, 20 minutes with intermission, thru July 14, 2012