To close out it's inaugural season, Hub Theatre Company of Boston is presenting two one act plays by Romulus Linney: "Sand Mountain Matchmaking," and "Why The Lord Come to Sand Mountain." Linney, who died in 2011, was a contemporary of David Mamet, Edward Albee and Sam Shepard. According to the program notes, Linney was well regarded, but did not achieve the "cultural caché of his above-named contemporaries. To put it in White Rhino terminology, when it comes to storytelling, Romulus was no Uncle Remus. I found the writing to be uneven. What comes through loud and clear in the writing is Linney's affection for the people of Appalachia and the quirkiness of their language and their culture. Each of the plays has elements to recommend them - some interesting characters and unusual situations, but overall, they did not hold my attention all the way through. They do not feel as if they will stand the test of time.
The cast, under the direction of Daniel Bourque, labored earnestly to convey Linney's affectionate portrait of the denizens of Sand Mountain. Each cast member plays a different role in each of the two plays. The company consists of: Olev Aleksander, Yoni Bronstein, Ann Carpenter, Lauren Elias, Robert Orzalli, Bill Salem and Connor Upton. Creating a wonderful Appalachian mood for the entire event was fiddler Julia Alvarez.
The director chose to have the characters speak in a close approximation Appalachian dialect. This choice was a mixed blessing for the audience. On the one hand, it added a degree of authenticity that was admirable. On the other hand, some of the actors struggled so hard to get the twang just right that the meaning of the words and phrases were sometimes lost.
Among the hard working cast, several individuals stood out.
- Connor Upton played a young child in each play, and was believable and endearing.
- Yoni Bronstein played an aggressive suitor in "Matchmaking" and the role of a bemused and befuddled St. Peter in "Why The Lord Come." He was excellent in both roles.
- Olev Aleksander was a breath of fresh air in his role as the successful suitor in "Matchmaking."
- Ann Carpenter's tour de force turn as Sang Picker, the narrator in "Why The Lord Come to Sand Mountain" was the highlight of the performance that I attended. In pitch perfect regional dialect, she was able to spin a yarn that set the table for the acting out of the outlandish story of Jesus and St. Peter visiting a dirt-poor family in their humble shanty atop Sand Mountain. In a sense, this morality play is a retelling of the Parable of the Widow's Mite. Ms. Carpenter was the perfect Earth Mother, and held the audience in her thrall throughout this play.
Stage Manager - Kelly Smith
Assistant Stage Manager - Katie Armstrong
Costume Design - Sara Tess Neumann
Lighting Design - Erik Fox
Sound Design - Jason Weber
Dialect Coach - Danny Bryck
Fight Choreography - Matt Martino
To order tickets, click the date you wish to attend:
First Church in Boston
66 Marlborough St, Boston MA
Take any Green Line train to Arlington or Copley -
the church is on the corner of Marlborough and Berkeley Sts
The First Church is fully handicapped accessible.
Limited street parking in neighborhood.
Recommended for ages 12+