Editor/Publisher, Bina Sharif

Sunday, May 19, 2019


The players in “The Trial of Mrs. Surratt” are already on stage when the audience enters. It's a huge cast of wandering players and they do wander around, jumping up and down on the benches, tables, running back and forth as if they are trying to catch a thief and yes, they are. They are trying to catch a murderer who shot president Lincoln and then ran away.
This play is mixed with historical facts (Not so clear) with fiction causing as much confusion as the wandering players trying to create chaos but instead are lost on stage. After a long time (Seems much longer ) the actors begin their dialogue.
For a while I thought this play is going to be a wordless experimental, performance piece. I was finally relieved when the words were spoken but most of the time I couldn't concentrate on the main action because there was lots of unnecessary secondary action taking place in the background.
The play should concentrate on Mrs. Surratt and the circumstances which made her a suspect in the Lincoln assassination. Mrs. Surratt was thought to have been sheltering rebel soldiers.
Her son, Johnny Surratt, was considered a suspect because he was friends to Booth. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t even in town when Lincoln was shot so Johnny made sure to stay away and elude capture.
Mary Surratt ( the most solid actress in the play) is persistent about her innocence but she is being tried not in the civil court but in an army tribunal where Judge Holt and the war secretary Edwin Stanton (another good actor) are determined to find her guilty from the very beginning.
Since the play has mixed up the facts and the fiction together my understanding of this particular play is not so precise either. There is lots of talk about Catholics not in a good way and I wondered if the assassin was a Catholic.
There were very strong impressions of John Wilkes Booth and his friends being gay. It doesn't matter if they were, but questions were raised which somehow can change the intention and the depiction of historical facts.
There were some good things in the show. I liked the music and the lights were very good but my main objection towards this show is that I couldn't concentrate on the words being spoken and I missed many important details in the play, but after the show, at the talk back the director informed us after I asked some questions about the distractions, she told us that the author didn't mind if we do miss some details because no matter what happens, the life still goes on.
I think there was too much life going on which was not so interesting after a while. I wish the author and the director concentrated more on the script and the real facts of the tragedy enfolding.

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