Antebellum – Robert O’Hara

I started doing this to share my musings on Simon Stephens’ plays. This play is one that inspired me to keep posting about plays that I was reading. I am a few months removed from that moment, and I won’t lie, my original judgement about the quality of this play holds, but it does seem a bit ridiculous.

Antebellum asks for a very cool ‘split screen’ technique in its staging. A story set in the lead up to the Atlanta premiere of Gone With The Wind, runs in parallel to a story set in an increasingly conservative Nazi Germany just a few years prior to the Atlanta story. And eventually the two timelines collide.

The play very obviously compares the Jim Crow South with Nazi Germany; the assumed superiority of whites over blacks to that same idea about Aryans over Jews, then it throws in heterosexuality over homosexuality, and there’s more than a whiff of class warfare in here as well. I’m going to be crass and call it an oppression smorgasbord. And I have no doubt that this show will ‘jump the shark’ for some readers/viewers. But somehow the characters and the passions speak and no matter what you make of any of the social issues covered, it’s very entertaining. Kind of an awesome Black-Jewish quasi-historical telenovela. You kind of have to see it to believe it, and if it’s ever running near you, you should.

Cast: 5  2W 3 M Runtime: 80 pp. 100 minutes? Themes: Jim Crow South, nascent Nazi Germany, Gone With the Wind, Marriage, Homosexuality, Judaism, Betrayal

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