War. Religion. Brotherhood. Slavery. Freedom.
The American Civil War has been retold in many ways, but none in the gripping, powerful fashion director Matthew Lopez has provided us with in “The Whipping Man.”
Lopez, who brought the play to the Manhattan Theater Club for Black History Month and beyond – takes us to a time we can only envision in history books – April 9, 1865. A landmark moment in American history when General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. A surrender that changed the world forever; just one week after slaves saw the chains on their wrists unlocked. A world where they were now free.
And this is where the story begins with a hobbling, young Jewish Confederate soldier, Caleb DeLeon, played by Jay Wilkison (film version of Rabbit Hole) limping into a run-down house in Richmond, Virginia. A house rotted to its core by the war and torrential rains. Caleb, soaked in rain and blood, falls to the ground alerting the only habitant of the house, Simon, a senior Black man played by two-time Emmy Award winner Andre Braugher (“Men of a Certain Age,” “Homicide”), who slowly paced to the front door with a shotgun.
“Who goes there?,” he shouted.
From here, we are introduced to another cast member, John, played by Andre Holland (Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Brother/Sister Plays) whose story adds another startling dimension to this play.
The Whipping Man then continues on a path of twists and turns climaxing with a Passover Seder where secrets are untangled between the two Black Jew slaves and the Confederate soldier.
Claudio Cabrera of Newsone.com covered the play, click here to read the full review of the “Whipping Man”