(Patricia N. Saffran's article appeared 7/20.)

Butler is one of the best plays we’ve seen in recent years. The subject is General Benjamin Franklin Butler, who, at the beginning of the Civil War, had to make real-time choices concerning the Fugitive Slave Act.  In 1861, while in charge of the Union Fort Monroe, Virginia, Butler was a general with no military experience, with three slaves asking for asylum to remain at Fort Monroe.  

The play was written by Richard Strand, who uses wit, charm, and social satire to transform what could have been dull history into an exciting comedy.  The dialogue is snappy, as Butler, played by a totally convincing Ames Adamson, as the blustering, brilliant officer, trades barbs with John W. Williams, who gives an equally compelling performance as Shepard Mallory, one of the escaped slaves.  There are also fine performances from Benjamin Sterling, as Lieutenant Kelly, Butler’s adjutant, and David Sitler, as the Confederate officer, Major Carey, who asks for the return of the slaves.  The set, designed by Jessica L. Parks of Butler’s office in Fort Monroe, and costumes, by Patricia E. Doherty, give an air of authenticity to the play.  Now through August 28 at 59 East 59–a must-see.

Buy tickets: http://www.59e59.org/boxoffice.php

© 2016 by Patricia N. Saffran. All rights reserved.

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