Thursday, February 26, 2015

'Jefferson's Garden' by Timberlake Wertenbaker

26 February 2015

Last Saturday we were at the Watford Palace Theatre to see 'Jefferson's Garden', a new play by Timberlake Wertenbaker, directed by Brigid Larmour. It tells the story of the American War of Independence and the founding of the United States through the eyes of a quaker family, newly arrived from England. Wertenbaker manages to blend the macro political story with the personal family tale by using a Greek-style chorus. The chorus steps out of the historical period, using contemporary language and references wittily to prick the potential pomposity of a very worthy narrative. With a cast of nine actors playing a host of characters on a fairly bare set, this is a fast-moving and inventive piece of theatre. But there is a very serious purpose at the heart of the play, as it addresses Jefferson's dilemma in drawing up the Declaration of Independence – whether the hard-won freedom should be extended to the slaves, knowing that this would have split the new union.

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