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 Jews and the Confederate soldier.
While the plot and performances are exceptional and note-worthy, the intimacy of the theatergoers experience is what gives this play its legs. The NY City Center provides its audience with an intimacy foreign to regular theatergoers. Some audience members are as close as two steps away from the action; while the farthest one is away is 20 feet. The close proximity of the actors to the audience provide for an experience that is not only sure to keep you engaged, but entertained.
The Whipping Man is a compelling work that packs a story worthy of a movie into two hours. A story that as long ago as it may be, still holds significance today in a nation that may be much closer than back then, but is still divided through race and religion.
TICKETING INFORMATION FOR THE WHIPPING MAN:
– Tickets for THE WHIPPING MAN are available via the New York City Center Box Office (131 West 55th Street), CityTix® (212-581-1212) and www.nycitycenter.org.
– Tickets for THE WHIPPING MAN are $80.
Please note THE WHIPPING MAN is dark on Mondays:
– NOW THROUGH SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 6: Tuesday at 7 PM, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 PM, Sunday at 7 PM. Matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM.
– MONDAY, FEBRUARY 7 – SUNDAY, MARCH 6: Tuesday at 7 PM, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 PM. Matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 PM.
– MONDAY, MARCH 7 – SUNDAY, MARCH 13: Tuesday at 7 PM, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 PM. Matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM. Please note there will only by seven performances on sale to the general public this week.
– MONDAY, MARCH 14 – SUNDAY, MARCH 20: Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 PM, Thursday through Saturday at 8 PM. Matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 PM.
For more information on MTC, please visit www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com