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The Jacksonian is a new play by American Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist Beth Henley that is being produced Off-Broadway by the well-known The New Group, featuring an A-list cast comprising of Bill Pullman, Amy Madigan, Ed Harris and Glenne Headly. Harris portrays a dentist who is made to leave home by his wife (Madigan). He then takes to a motel where he comes across various characters including a treacherous bartender played by Pullman, his teenage daughter and an employee of the motel portrayed by Headly. His encounters with these characters only worsen his situation further, adding to his decline while a recent murder investigation runs along. Set in the sixties, the play is filled with elements of dark humor and suspense as its reveals the madness and eerie tensions of a town distraught with racism. The Jacksonian tickets have already become quite a sought-after purchase among Henley's fans who enjoyed and connected with her acclaimed and Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Crimes of the Heart.
The Jacksonian premiered Off-Broadway in November 2013 at New York's Theatre Row with director Robert Falls and cast members Ed Harris, Glenne Headly, Amy Madigan, Juliet Brett and Bill Pullman. The story centers on a dingy and drab motel that houses a bunch of unfortunate, miserly people who come there for work, staying or a visit. The prominent one among all the characters is the suffering dentist, Bill Perch, who has recently been thrown out of his own house by wife Susan because he irresponsibly allows for her hysterectomy while she is in surgery for tumor removal. She is not in the right mind, making things terrible for Bill but when he suggests psychiatric treatment to her, she makes everything much worse including kicking him out.
Writer of The Jacksonian, Beth Henley is famous for writing women's issues mainly alongside family life in Southern United States. The dramatist is also a renowned screenwriter and has completed various film adaptations of her works. Her pieces have gained prominence over time for combining the element of comedy with serious moments which adds to bring out a certain pensive quality and reality in the story. She wrote her prize-winning drama Crimes of the Heart in 1978 and it premiered in NYC at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, followed by a staging at Manhattan Theatre Club. This play also brought her a New York Drama Critics Circle Award in the category of Best American Play in 1981. In addition, the play won her a Tony nomination while the screen adaptation brought her an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Henley's works are often set in Deep South, in the cities of Mississippi or Louisiana where she was brought up. Her pieces thematically focus on the importance of love and small town values. Along with that, she takes a thoughtfully drawn out look at her female characters to find expression and identity.
The premiering production of The Jacksonian turned out all too overwhelming with Harris putting on a great spectacle of a man utterly confused; a good dentist slipping into acute mental instability. While the audience can feel his gentleness around his daughter as well as wife, they can also see him bottling up a volcanic rage just about to erupt. The show is quite like a universe punctuated with confusion, noise, incoherence, violence and gallows of humor that makes it a very close depiction of reality. The Epoch Times has described it as a play that is both enthralling and disturbing at the same time. Andy Propst of American Theater Web rightly points out that though the play shows us a place no one would want to live in, it most certainly is an incredible place to visit on a theater-evening. The Jacksonian tickets are up for grabs so get your share and listen to what harsh truths, bitter realities and unexpected comedy Beth has reflected in this recently staged work.