ensemble theatre · working horse productions · Ages 14+ · United States

world premiere
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June 14, 2013

My overall impression

Originally posted on Bitter Lemons – “Fringe Femmes”

It’s billed as a “Southern Gothic Tale,” but whatever that means to you, don’t go looking for the avant-garde or much of the Fringe factor here. Lily Mercer’s “Before a Fall” is a straight-ahead, often chilling drama that centers on one good Christian family, in a small town where what happens in a barn, stays in a barn. Until it all goes terribly wrong. Or wrong-er.

The villain – aside from the town’s shut-your-eyes-and-look-to-God mentality – is the Rev. Jack Hawkins, and Worth Howe plays him with a suitable creep factor. The innocents are young Darla June and Lala, who’ve learned to stay away from Grandpa, especially when he’s drinking. Allie Costa and Jamie McRae are wonderful as the girls, and Laura Napoli does a strong turn as the frustrated schoolteacher who digs up buried family secrets. The playwright directs the large ensemble cast; no mean feat. And even if we might be hankering for a bit more amped-up “Gothic” in the presentation, the company’s combined efforts tell this horrifying tale with care and clarity.

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