|Photo from the Washington Post Review|
I went to see a performance of "Necessary Sacrifices" at the Ford Theater this evening. I was utterly mesmerized by the show. This is as close to a time machine as you are likely to find. If you are not familiar with the show I suggest you visit the Ford's Theater web page to learn more about it. Then get some tickets and check it out for yourself before it is gone. The run ends on 18 February.
Briefly the play covers two documented meetings between Frederick Douglas, played by Craig Wallace, and Abraham Lincoln, played by David Selby. The first occurred in 1863 after the Emancipation Proclamation. The second takes place in 1864 as Lincoln in campaigning for a second term. The topics covered are tense and complex as Douglas pushes for faster progress toward equal rights, while Lincoln explains his actions in light of the complexities he faces as a leader of all America. Major George Stearns, played by Michael Kramer complete with an impressive beard, has a supporting role as Douglas' friend. The only other on stage performer is a violinist played by either Thomas Brooker or Tony Donaldson.
The two main actors bear uncanny resemblance to the historical figures, while the venue itself is an historic location - my eye wandered several times to the box where Lincoln was shot. As a result, I was totally sucked into the play. Contributing to the sense of reality is Richard Hellesen's excellent script. I liked how the dialog sounded authentic without the pollution of modern vernacular, possibly because Hellesen used many actual quotes from Lincoln and Douglas. The fine script is is complemented by the excellent performances by all the actors.
The staging is simple but effective. At one point the sound of muskets from firing squads executing deserters across the Potomac drifts across the stage. Lincoln explains to Douglas what the noise was. It was quite unnerving but realistic.
All I can say is, " see it too."