Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Amish Project

The real-life 2006 shootings in Pennsylvania's Amish country, which resulted when a local milk man held a schoolhouse hostage with the intention of molesting the girls, are the inspiration for this extraordinary solo show, both written and performed by Jessica Dickey and clearly a highlight of this year's Fringe Festival. The play, which gives voice to fictionalized characters each touched in one way or another by the tragedy, is an accomplished piece of work that avoids sensationalism: its aim is higher and speaks in part to the power of grace and of forgiveness. Dickey's performance is stunning - while always costumed in simple Amish attire she transforms in an instant from a young schoolgirl who witnessed the murders to the gunman's widow to a police liasion and so on - and although the play as written could conceivably be performed by an ensemble of actors, some of its main themes gain a deeper resonance as performed by only one. This play should have a long life beyond the Festival.

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