From Monkey to Man: "Inherit the Wind" at CNY Playhouse

Drummond (Tom Minion) examines a potential juror in CNYP's Inherit the Wind  Photo by Amelia Beamish Inherit The Wind

 Who: CNY Playhouse

 Where: Shopping town Mall

 When: Through October 26th

 Tickets: $20/$34.95 for Dinner and show

 Review by Arshie Chevalwala


On October 11, the CNY Playhouse witnessed a courtroom trial filled with tension and sarcasm.Director Sharee Lemos’ newest production, Inherit The Wind is a tightly constructed drama set in mid-1920’s Tennessee and inspired by the real-life Scopes’ Trial.

The play opens with chaotic rejoicing of the arrival of prosecutor Matthew Harrison Brady (Joe Pierce) who is here to prosecute Bertram Cates (Austin Arlington), a local high school science teacher who was arrested for teaching the theory of evolution derived from Charles Darwin’s “Origin of Species”. Pierce’s confidence and deeply rooted religious beliefs make his character a perfect antithesis to Drummond and by extension, the theory of evolution. His performance is filled with energy and pomposity delivering perfect justice to Brady’s character.

Henry Drummond (Tom Minion) arrives to town with a motive of defending Cates and is referred to as the devil because of his agnostic belief. Watching Minion defend Darwin’s theory is a treat because of his honest approach and building frustration toward the people’s denial of the theory of evolution.

 Brady (Joe Pierce) leads a revival meeting in "Heavenly Hillsboro" in CNYP's Inherit the Wind  Photo by Amelia Beamish

Even though the first 15 minutes of the act is mostly actors shuffling around on stage, they soon fall into context. One character that stands out most is a highbrow newspaperman, E. K. Hornbeck (Edward Mastin) who does fine work as the cynic in town more for his own amusement than actually reporting on the trial. His candid commentary as the situation unfolds creates a zesty narrative to the more serious storyline.

Bill Lee as Reverend Jeremiah Brown and Keith Arlington as Mayor Goodfellow make for remarkable supporting acts as they deliver the roles of religious authority and civil authority lacing the storyline with an authentic small-town feeling.

Director Sharee Lemos’ production of “Inherit The Wind” is like a much needed history lesson that still resonates. It is a show that looks back at a very naïve human race looking at the arguments of science, one we’re sometimes still making.