Although The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry is nearly three hours long, this play is jam-packed with action. And it’s completely wild. Like, grab onto the side of your seat, bring a friend to clutch sort of deal. It has Brown written all over it; from the family dynamics to the shifting gender roles to the unconventional narrative style. Unsurprisingly, it is the brainchild of a Brown Professor, Marcus Gardley. Director Kym Moore explains how Gardley “created a myth culled from our collective past as balm for the soul.”
Here are ten of my takeaways from The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry:
1. The set is one-of-a-kind. Before the show began, the audience was invited to walk on the stage and have a look around. There were rocks scattered on the ground, headless torsos, and a massive hole in the ground. Perplexed, we settled into our seats. Soon, an overhead voice alerted us that “the museum is now closing.” Were we pretending this was a museum because Native peoples are always so on display? Or was it just because the stage was so interesting? Already, the play was thought provoking, forcing us to ask questions that couldn’t be answered. Philosophy friends, where you at?
2.The lighting technicians killed it. The creamy watercolor effect immediately established the mood. And as the plot moved forward, the set became drenched in red. The shadows were threatening and distorted our sense of place and time. Going for unsettled? Success.
3. Every sentence in this script drips with metaphor; I found myself scrambling to commit certain lines to memory. Many of the phrases are violent. When the characters argue, they spit out words like bullets, attacking one another mercilessly. But when young Sweet Tea, played by Julia Newitt ‘19, tries to explain her love, we are fully convinced that her feelings are pure.
4. This play is full of badass ladies. The witch Half George, played by Oyindamola Akingbile ‘17, was particularly striking. Captivated by her strong melodic voice, we are in her clutches the entire show. She reckons that her heart is “hard and rotten” and she’s not wrong. The argument scene between her and Mary South (played to perfection by Crystal Kim ‘16) is especially terrifying.
5. While the show deals with many serious themes, there are some comedic aspects as well. In my opinion, the funniest scene in the show occurs when Fat Rev, played by Sam Heft-Luthy ‘16, finally stands up to his earnestly religious, overbearing wife, M. Gene played by Midori Cassou ‘17.5. He raps for five minutes straight, never hesitating. By the end, the audience was cheering along with him. More comic relief is introduced with Colorado, a worker with a penchant for promiscuity, played by Eric Baffour-Addo ‘18. His ranting is definitely a highlight of the first act.
6. Blood is important. English concentrators, beware. This show deserves a round-table conversation that lasts hours. I won’t try and get into all the many motifs threaded throughout the show, but the importance of blood cannot be overstated. Characters refer to fresh blood in a well, “bad blood” existing between characters, and the ethnic makeup and purity of blood
7. Roles are seriously reversed. In typical Brown fashion, conventional societal roles are twisted in this production. Sons whip their fathers, wives lord over their husbands, and grandmothers make up the patriarchy.
8. WTF is this thing we call love!? None of the love stories in this show are simplistic. Love bleeds too easily into hate, into anger. Number Two, played by a convincing Javon Stephenson ‘18, explains how “you can’t really hate anything. There’s only love. Hate is only love misguided.” And as the show progresses, we believe him. A stellar Fernando Medina ‘19 plays his rival, Trowbridge. An immensely complex character, it is a testament to Medina that he can pull off this part.
9. Look out for the ah-mazing kiss scene. Best kiss scene belongs to- ok, I can’t tell you. But believe me. It is HOT. And unexpected. And HOT.
10. Go see this show! Looking to inject some more culture into your life? Take advantage of Brown’s incredible theater and see this show. Yes, it is unconventional in every way that it can be. But in the best possible way. People in the audience looked at each other and marveled “what is happening?!” and then they couldn’t move. Intermission came and I honestly forgot that we were supposed to get up and stretch our legs. That’s just how The Road Weeps, the Well Runs Dry is: compelling, in-your-face, and eccentric. For times and ticket information, visit this link.