STAGE REVIEW Victorian Players cast does justice to 'Inherit the Wind'
The large cast rose to the challenge well.
By GARRY L. CLARK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- I have long been interested in the story of "Inherit the Wind," the theatrical classic by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee that opened Thursday evening at The Victorian Players. The play, based on the famous Scopes "Monkey" trial, has been a staple for drama groups for decades. The movie is even used as a historical docudrama in classrooms around the country.
That is unfortunate, in that Lawrence and Lee purportedly had as their intent to give a commentary on McCarthyism in the 1950s and chose as their vehicle a fictionalized version of the Scopes trial which has since become ingrained as fact in the minds of millions of Americans.
Though the names were changed and a few fictional characters added, personalities depicted in the play are obvious as to their real-life counterparts, at least in function.
The trial itself is a portrayal of the prosecution of John Scopes for teaching evolution in a biology class, counter to a state law. This attracted the attention of William Jennings Bryan for the prosecution and Clarence Darrow for the defense, their characters in the drama being Matthew Harrison Brady and Henry Drummond, respectively. Scopes' character is Bertram Cates, and the action takes place in Hillsboro, Tenn., rather than the actual location of Dayton, Tenn.
Cast: Tom Jones as Drummond and Mac Michael as Brady headlined the large cast. Michael was in his element as the bombastic politician and preacher, orating in fierce tones the pronouncement of doom upon the defendant. Jones also was quite good, although his lines did not always flow as smoothly as they could have. Scott Hudson as Cates was excellent, as was Lisa Bogen as his love interest, Rachel, who is caught between the beliefs of her upbringing in the minister's home and her love for Cates.
Joan Hamilton was very good as E.K. Hornbeck, a journalist with more than a little interest in the case, and Josh Coy and Dawn Hoon were well-cast in their roles as Atty. Davenport and the Rev. Jesse Brown, respectively, and Marilyn Higgins as Mrs. Brady. Overseeing the court proceedings in an adequate performance as the judge was Ray Thompson.
Rounding out the cast as citizens and jury members were Jeanne Hanuschak, Pat Schauweker, Paula Politis, Perc Kelty, Allison Hanuschak, Vern Rodenbaugh, Rex Judd, Karla Judd, Patty Burgess, Carlene Hoon, Bob Wilson and Joe Higgins.
Problems: While 'Inherit the Wind' preaches the right of each person to think for himself, it unabashedly chooses for the audience which side is correct in its caricatured characters. Those who oppose Darwinism are shown as Bible-thumping, intolerant, closed-minded buffoons while those who embrace the theory of evolution appear kind and intelligent.
Some research on the play at the public library or on the Internet will reveal a host of inaccuracies with the actual Scopes trial that have become accepted as fact. The townspeople in the real case were noted for their kindness and consideration of both lawyers as well as their friendship with the teacher, who never was jailed, or even in danger of it.