With sweeping gestures and a rueful smile, David Spencer brings to the stage an attorney an intelligent, honest and idealistic attorney. His fine acting, as well as the acting of Richard Scott, who plays the prosecutor to Spencer's defense, elevates the Grand Theatre's production of "Inherit the Wind."
Many theatergoers will be familiar with this classic courtroom drama. "Inherit the Wind" tells a fictional version of the 1925 Scopes trial, in which an eloquent Clarence Darrow defended the right of a high school biology teacher to teach evolution in the public schools.
Spencer's character, Henry Drummond, believes that the right to think is what is on trial. And while we are meant to sympathize with Drummond and with his client (the teacher, played by Gordon Dunn) Scott's character, Matthew Harrison Brady, is also a nuanced and, in some ways, admirable human.
Because Brady's faith in the Bible is real, his faith allows him to be able to urge the preacher (played by Greg Peters) to act more like Solomon. Elizabeth Abbot plays the preacher's daughter, Rachel.
John Caywood directs. Keven Myhre has created a simple set, a series of boxes that manage to convey a stylized courtroom. The scenes fade in and out with gospel and blue grass music, which also aids in our ability to feel as though we are somewhere in the South at some previous time in history. (Cynthia Kear-Rees is the sound designer.)
Besides Scott and Spencer, there are other flashes of excellence among the actors, including the acting of Ryan Paskins, who plays Elijah, fairly singing his lines. In general, though, the acting is standard, workmanlike, but certainly good enough to engage the audience.
And lest we think the debate about teaching evolution in the schools is over, it must be said that there were murmurs of discontent in the audience during preview night Thursday. There were those in the audience who
were engaged enough to protest, those who obviously preferred Brady's Bible-based opinions over the scientific opinions on how biology should be taught.Sensitivity rating: Mild, 1950s-type swearing. The main reason to avoid bringing young children to this play is that the dialogue is sophisticated and they'd be bored.