The Whipping Man
by Anthony Chase
Playwright Matthew Lopez was intrigued by the fact that Passover came on the very day after the Civil War ended in 1865. In that year, this celebration of the freedom of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt coincided with the freedom of American slaves.
This is the backdrop of Lopez’s play, The Whipping Man, set in a severely damaged house in defeated Richmond. A wounded Jewish soldier from the confederacy returns home and is greeted by two newly freed African men with whom he had grown up. This group celebrates Passover together.
The Whipping Man opens at Jewish Repertory Theatre of WNY this week. Saul Elkin directs Greg Howze and Dee LaMonte Perry, with Stan Klimecko as the soldier.
The play weaves themes of biblical significance together to contemplate the consequences of war, slavery, suffering, and forgiveness. There is recollection of a whipping. There is discussion of Lincoln’s fabled visit to defeated Richmond with his son, where he was greeted by throngs of freed slaves, days before his own assassination. There are secrets to be revealed. (There’s even an onstage amputation.)
The Whipping Man has fascinated audiences across the country. Now, JRT takes its turn. The production runs through November 11.
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