Thunder Rock Review by Brenda Repland
In its 28th season, titled the Season of Dissent, The Metropolitan Playhouse has once again plucked a play from the past that so resonates with our current situation as to be either a caution or an encouragement. Coming, as it does, in the season of Epiphany, only demonstrates how hard-won some understandings may be.
In Robert Ardrey’s “ghost story” from 1939, David Charleston (Jed Peterson) an American journalist, has just returned from covering the Spanish Civil War. His once-genial demeanor has been eroded to a cynical acquiescence. “I’ve rejected a world I cannot help. I’m creating a new one.”
He has become a recluse/lighthouse keeper on a tiny island on northern Lake Michigan. There, he conjures what he imagines were the personalities of victims lost ninety years earlier on a packet boat accident. But as the “victims” come to life, they disabuse him of many of his assumptions about them. Their message: Optimism is not futile! Pessimism is a dangerous waste. Face the world’s hardships with candor but respond with hope!
The play was first staged by Elia Kazan on Broadway and made the author’s name in London. Opening on the West End in 1940, it played through the Blitz to audiences who kept gas masks
under their seats. Winston Churchill called it “the greatest contribution to British morale there has yet been.” After the war, it brought a new inspiration to a war-ravaged Berlin.
Typical of plays directed by Alex Roe, there are no weak spots. The company is excellent. Jed Peterson delivers a commanding performance capped with a breath-taking moment of his epiphany.
Running through February 8. (Box Office 800-838-3006)