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REVIEWS

Quiet in the Land, by Anne Chislett
Quiet in The Land - An Amazing Journey
Monday, March 12, 2007
5.0
I'm taking the liberty of posting this review written by Allison Travis, a local college student. There are a couple "mild" spoilers herein.

“Quiet in the Land,” a play by Anne Chislett
Review by Allison Travis

Sometimes a simple assignment can take you on an amazing journey. That is exactly what happened to this reviewer on a warm, Sunday afternoon in March when she walked into a quaint, old community Church in old downtown Norcross, Georgia to see the Lionheart Theatre Company’s production of “Quiet in the Land,” by Anne Chislett. The production took its viewers back in time to the World War II era and its impact on a small Amish community. The church environment with its old, plain fixtures and wooden pews made the audience feel a part of the opening scene where the bishop of the Amish church addresses a meeting of the congregation. Members of the cast were cleverly intermingled amongst the audience and some were startled by the loud shouts of “amen” from behind them.

Almost immediately, the audience is a part of this unfolding story of a young, Amish man who questions his faith and is drawn to the patriotic duty of fighting for his country. His father, the son of the former bishop, feels compelled to maintain the traditions of the church and resist the temptations of modern technology and other elements of change. The congregation strains under the natural tendencies of its younger parishioners to speak their mind and interpret the bible in their own way. There is a pleasant mixture of humor and drama when, at times, the wife of the deacon admits to her fascination with an Irish neighbor’s telephone, but the new bishop is determined to stop the infiltration of new farm equipment and technology into the community.

The Director interjects some clever political humor into the production when the men of the church receive their selective service notices and appear before the regional recruiter whose name just happens to be Bush. The cultural implications of war hit close to home when the local Irish folk begin criticizing the German dialect and culture of the Amish, and question their patriotism, while the Amish simply try to maintain their separate, simple life.

What may make this play a long lasting work of art is its focus on essential human conflicts of life that are appropriate to any time or place. It reminds us all of the current war, those who resist war, the racial profiling that often occurs during war, the lasting impact on individuals and families, and the basic desire for peace: in the family, in the church, in the home, and in the heart.

The acting in this production was superb, of a quality usually seen in large professional companies. Jeremy King, who played Yock Bauman, the young man questioning his faith vs. his duty, did so with consummate skill and a level of expertise way beyond his years. Bob Smith, who played the father and bishop of the congregation, brought the entire house to tears with a gripping scene where his son comes home from war seeking forgiveness, but the father must hold to his perception of the church’s convictions and reject his son. This he does in an amazing scene with almost no words, just body language of tearful, sobbing anguish. The audience, it seemed, didn’t breath for nearly five minutes.

Adam Monforton, who played Menno Miller, carried the audience through an amazing transformation of character from a young stuttering man with no confidence and questionable conviction, to an eloquent spokesperson for the younger members of the congregation who ultimately challenges the bishop’s rigid interpretation of the faith.

Emih Abrahamson did a very convincing portrayal of Katie, the young girlfriend of the protagonist, who must also choose between the traditional Amish woman’s role and her feelings for Yock. Her scene where she challenges the bishop’s refusal to forgive his son was a spellbinder. Kudos to Glory Hannah who played Yock’s grandmother, to Jill Swenson, who played Katie’s mother the character who was enamored with the telephone, to Tim Green, the deacon and peacemaker, and to all the supporting players. There wasn’t a weak performance among them.

The icing on the cake for this reviewer’s experience, was actually complimentary homemade apple pie and lemonade served by the Theater Company staff during intermission, which was shared by some patrons on the front steps of the church. It was like an Amish picnic.

My hat is off to the Lionheart Theatre Company. Your name is well-chosen.

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