Photo: J. Hoch.
In Jacob's House, the impressively talented and prolific August Schulenburg uses the biblical story of Jacob wrestling an angel as a springboard for a realistic yet mythical drama that plumbs the meaning of faith, destiny, and family. Schulenburg writes with intelligence and humor (even throwing in a bit of slapstick), and the result is an unusual drama that is both thought-provoking and entertaining. The show begins right after Jacob's funeral, as his children Dinah and Joe and daughter-in-law Tamar argue about exactly who Jacob was and which one of them gets to keep the house. As they discuss the past, it comes to life before us, and our first clue that this is not an ordinary family drama occurs when we realize that the father of these contemporary adults was alive during the American Revolution. The characters are complex, the story is compelling, and the language ranges from good to gorgeous. The play is a remarkable achievement, made more so by the fact that Schulenburg wrote the first draft in a weekend and quickly wrote only two more drafts, keeping much material from the first. The excellent cast comprises Johnna Adams, Jessica Angleskhan, Matthew Archambault, Zack Calhoon, Tiffany Clementi, Kelli Dawn Holsopple, Biana LaVerne Jones, Isaiah Tanenbaum, Jane Lincoln Taylor, and Anthony Wills, Jr. The assured direction is by Kelly O'Donnell and the evocative and attractive set design is by Jason Paradine.