Review “American Myth” (American Blues Theater): Riveting Factual Puzzler

American Blues Theater presents he World Premiere of AMERICAN MYTH.

Mick Weber (Doug) opens and closes this play with soliloquies about John Adams.  Initially, the effervescent Weber describes Adams at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Weber vividly recounts the sights, the sounds, the smells on July 4th, 1776.  He places the audience in the actual room.  His narration seems like a personal recollection.  Later, he describes Adams‘ image on the Jefferson Memorial with heartbreaking resignation. The life comparisons between Doug and Adams are profound.  The powerful transformation between Weber at the beginning and at the end of the play is a betrayal of truth.

Playwright Christina Gorman penned a tale about Dr. Doug Graham, a popular history teacher.  Graham is also an award-winning author.  As the history scholar prepares to receive another prestigious honor, he is interviewed by Peter, a former student and journalist for the local newspaper.  ‘On the record’, Graham shares stories of his personal history.  The grandiose tales about the Viet Nam War are similar to his storytelling about colonial America.  Gorman uses her play to tease out the ethical dilemma of embellishing on history in the classroom.  Her set-up is subtle and thought-provoking.  Where is the line between engaging students and lying to them?  And whose responsibility is it to question a teacher’s personal history?

Gorman’s play is a factual puzzler.  Director Steve Scott adds an authentic layer of humanity.  Weber is likably charismatic.  He is reminiscent of anyone’s favorite teacher.  Weber effectively showcases the ability to hold a classroom spellbound with grandiose orations that take on a life of their own.  A zealous Jordan Brodess (Peter) realizes his mentor is flawed.  Brodess gets caught up in his own historical witch hunt.  In a scene where Peter is now being interviewed on television, Brodess blurts out something he shouldn’t.  His instant and lingering reaction is bittersweet.  It’s the layers of deceit that make this show an ongoing contemplation in honesty.  Cheryl Graeff (Lanie Graham) unwaveringly supports and protects her husband.  A stoic Graeff looks at ‘his story’, her husband’s, with more acceptance of the facts.

AMERICAN MYTH was riveting.  Although it may be too history-heavy for some, I found Mick Weber’s classroom teachings fascinating.  I would definitely sign up for his class.  This play continues to make me wonder about the interpretation of history from a personal perspective.  What should we believe?  What should we question?  What is the American Myth?

Running Time:  Two hours includes an intermission

At Greenhouse Theatre, 2257 N. Lincoln

Written Christina Gorman

Directed by Steve Scott

Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30pm

Saturdays at 3:30pm and 7:30pm

Sundays at 2:30pm

Thru April 6th

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Production photo by Johnny Knight

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