photo: Geoff Green
The real-life 2006 shootings of young Amish girls at their schoolhouse in Pennsylvania are the inspiration for this extraordinary and deeply affecting sixty five minute solo show, written and performed by Jessica Dickey. While always dressed as an Amish schoolgirl, a choice that not only unifies the production but also emphasizes some of the play's themes, Dickey plays a variety of characters - the shooter, his wife, neighbors, etc. - who are directly or indirectly affected by the crime. Her portrayals are detailed and distinct - Dickey can shift with lightning speed from one of the fresh-faced innocent youngsters to an outraged neighbor and register each so vividly that we recognize them again without a word. As a playwright, she avoids easy sensationalism - there is some needed expository information, but her focus is not simply on exactly what happened nor even on why but on the spiritual challenge presented in the crime's aftermath. The Amish Project gently asks enormous questions about our cultural capacity for forgiveness and grace; it's generous, thoughtful and nourishing for the soul.