Written by Thomas Bradshaw
Directed by Jasson Minadakis
Marin Theatre Company
Extended to October 29, 2017
Reviewed by Christine Okon
|Roomies Ella Dershowitz and Rosie Hallett|
Robert Hemings (Cameron Matthews), James Hemings William Hodgson), Martha Jefferson (Ella Dershowitz), Thomas Jefferson (Mark Anderson Phillips), Betty Hemings (Charlette Speigner), and Karen (Rosie Hallett).
Martha's storytelling is not linear and moves quickly between the present and 18th century America, with actors doing double or triple duty to portray multiple characters entering, exiting, and interacting, and set pieces being rearranged in a crisp and rapid choreography of stage design (kudos to Sean Fanning). The slavelife saga of Sally's mother Betty involved multiple sales and many children with different men; in one birth scene, "babies" (plastic dolls) are "delivered" one after the other in quick sequence, an amusing and effective trick to compress the passage of time. This same trick is later used to depict the many children of Thomas Jefferson with his wife Martha. A lot happens, and some of it may be historically accurate (Bradshaw did extensive research for the play), but remember, it's story told by someone from the future looking at events through her subjective lens.
The conflicted (he owns slaves, but thinks they should be free?) and contemplative Thomas Jefferson is earnestly and passionately played by Mark Anderson Phillips who engages in anachronistic banter with John Adams and Ben Franklin as if they were college buddies who "get to do all the fun stuff" when it comes to shaping the emerging new government.
|Benjamin Franklin (Robert Sicular) and Thomas Jefferson (Mark Anderson Phillips)|
Thomas Jefferson (Mark Anderson Phillips) and Sally Hemings (Tara Pacheco).
Thomas and Sally tries to titillate with explicit details and a sprinkling of some facts to show how some parts of collective memory are shaped by the zeitgeist. Martha and Karen never leave the dorm room, nor do they really learn anything new, from what went on with Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings.
Thomas and Sally
Photographer: Kevin Berne
L. Peter Callender*
Jupiter Evans/French Servant
Scott K. Coopwood*
John Adams/Lafayette/Captain Hemings/Overseer/Jacques
Mark Anderson Phillips*
Benjamin Franklin/John Wayles/French Cook/French Tailor/Man
Elizabeth (Betty) Hemings/Renee
Theodore J.H. Hulsker
Jemier B. Jenkins
* Denotes member of Actors Equity Association
+ Member, United Scenic Artists
^ Member, Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers
Marin Theatre Company
397 Miller Avenue
Mill Valley, California 94941
Phone: 415.388.5200 Fax: 415.388.0768