A Time To Kill

October 23, 2013

My favorite drama is the kind that makes you laugh on the way to making deeper points.  This play delivers on both counts.

Sebastian Arcelus’s spirited performance as defense attorney Jake Brigance keeps the action moving swiftly and the two and a half hours passed quickly.

Fred Dalton Thompson and Tom Skerrit, both well-known, seasoned actors, do fine jobs as well.  Mr. Thompson, you may know, also served as US Senator from Tennessee and was briefly engaged as a presidential candidate. 

This first of John Grisham’s novels to be adapted for the stage was skillfully done by Scarsdale’s Rupert Holmes.  It tells the story of a black father who kills two men who raped and beat his ten year old daughter.  He freely admits the crime and it is the task of his attorney – Mr. Arcelus – to get him acquitted somehow.  We don’t know the verdict until it is read, so a bit of suspense as well.

Mississippi’s culture of racial bigotry figures prominently during the trial, as does some Perry Masonesque legal gamesmanship.

Some of the roles seem unnecessary – probably occurring in the book, which I have not read, but outliving their usefulness in this stage version.  Some serve  minor purpose, but at least three parts could have been completely eliminated without hurting the story at all.

Patrick Page, the prosecutor with the strongest voice of all, was as excellent here as he was as the Green Goblin in Spiderman.  Sorry to say he is no longer there, so I will not get to see his excellent portrayal when I see Spidey for the third time.

This is good drama – well done – terrific sets and staging.  I recommend it.