Lincoln and God
Warehouse – Mainstage
Sunday, July 19th @ 9 pm
They say: Lincoln and God examines our sixteenth President’s conflict with men and God through defeats, triumphs, and tragedies. Lincoln joins no church, but does he hear God in the dialogue and actions and words of friends, colleagues, and enemies?
Chris says: There’s a popular story to the effect that shortly prior to his death, Thoreau was asked if he had made his peace with God. He replied, “I didn’t know we had quarreled.” This anecdote passed through my head as I was watching Lincoln and God, which might easily be renamed Lincoln Not Quarreling with God.
A pervasive assumption dating back to the Romantic era is that conflict is the essence of drama. Hegel deserves much of the credit for this idea. Unlike Aristotle, whose idea of an exemplary play was Oedipus (for argument’s sake, a one-person play), Hegel fancied Antigone, a two-person play: a bitter argument between Creon and Antigone. For good viewing, the current thinking goes, you need two poles, two non-cohering value systems.
Lincoln, this play leads me to think, was a calm and thoughtful soul who spent a fair portion of his time in conversation with Rev. Gurley of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. As staged, they don’t agree on all matters—the clergyman doesn’t understand why the president does want Southerners to go to church but doesn’t want Bibles to reach rebel soldiers—but there’s not much disagreement here. One man offers prayers; the other welcomes them.
The history of the Civil War era being so permeated with conflict, it’s amazing to me that playwright Anthony E. Gallo would choose such static material. He has used history as his framework, selecting and depicting episodes from the first inauguration to the assassination. He has not, however, captured the drama of the age.
Though it’s not billed as such, this is a staged reading under the thin guise of being a radio drama. Come with simple expectations.
See it if: You can’t get enough of Lincoln.
Skip it if: You like your fringe funky.