By HARRY FISHER
Few plays are willing to tackle as much emotional subject matter as “The Amish Project.” Going to see this play is an experience in which everyone should partake, especially when it is being performed by our peers in the UMW Department of Theatre and Dance in Klein Theatre. When I went to see the play last Friday, I was completely blown away, not only by the heartbreaking and inspiring story of the play itself, but also by the beyond impressive talent of the wonderful cast.
The story revolves around an Amish community in a small American town. From the very beginning, we learn that an armed man entered the community’s school house and opened fire. From there, the full details of the shooting, as well as the events preceding it and following it, are slowly revealed to us through the perspectives of seven characters. Although the play is fiction, it was inspired and partially based on a real-life shooting in the village of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania.
The plot doesn’t operate like that of a traditional play, with the events broken up into different scenes containing dialogue between the characters. Instead, the seven characters take turns talking directly to the audience, giving their perspectives on the events surrounding the play and allowing the story to be told through their recollections.
The central conflict of the play lies in how the different characters react to the shooting, and how it impacts their own lives. However, it also revolves around the forgiving nature of the Amish community and how they are able to forgive the gunman for what he did, as well as how the seven characters react to this amazing forgiveness.
Ultimately, the story of “The Amish Project” will do much more than tug at your heart strings a bit. It will leave you questioning the very concept of mercy, and the effect it has on our lives. It will leave you wondering what you would do if you were in the place of each of the seven characters. By the time the play is over, there will be so many questions about morality floating around in your brain that you will be thinking about it for days on end, but it’s totally worth it. This play truly is an inspiring and even mind-blowing experience that is more than worth the price of admission.
Part of the reason the play was such a great experience for me was the amazing acting of the UMW cast. The cast includes Madison Neilson as Velda, Erin Foster as Anna, Sarah Green as Carol Stuckey, Jake Dodges as Eddie Stuckey, Mitch Coomer as Bill North, Lauren Esprit as America, and Elissa Davis as Sheryl Local. Each and every one of them is incredibly talented, and none of their performances come across as stilted or fake in any sense. They make their characters seem so real that it’s almost scary, and it really immerses you into the play.
These actors also have incredible range, and know how to make you laugh, cry, sympathize with their characters and even feel resentment toward them. What amazes me most is how some of the actors made me put myself in the shoes of their characters, and had me wondering what I would do if put into their situations. All in all, I don’t think there could have been a more perfect cast to play these seven characters.
If you haven’t already seen “The Amish Project,” this weekend is the time to do it. It’s more than worth the money for the story alone, but the wonderful performance of the UMW cast will leave you wondering why you hadn’t seen it sooner.