War is an ugly phenomenon, but when a war ends, conflict can still reign.
"The Whipping Man" by Matthew Lopez, which opened Sept. 23 at none too fragile theater, is set right after the end of the Civil War, in the Virginia residence of the DeLeon family. Co-artistic director Sean Derry was director.
Caleb (Benjamin Gregorio) has returned home, after fighting on the Confederate side, to find that most of his family has fled. The only souls remaining are two of the family's former slaves, the older Simon (David LeMoyne) and John (Brian Kenneth Armour). Caleb has been badly wounded and winds up being homebound.
It's an interesting family dynamic, well-captured by the trio of actors.
LeMoyne's Simon serves as a strong, gentle but authoritative father figure for the two younger men, taking care of the injured Caleb and trying to get John to see that with newfound freedom comes responsibilities. Because the family property has been largely destroyed, Simon and John forage to provide for the diminished household, including finding articles so they can celebrate Passover.
Gregorio's Caleb is a young man who finds his world turned upside down, in more than one way. This Caleb is likable; not perfect, but not a bad person.
Armour's John provides most of the laughs in the show, but underneath the cavalier demeanor and his penchant for "finding" supplies (mostly by the five-finger discount), is a young man who still stings at the injustices done to him because he was a slave. At the same time, he finds himself lost as to what to do now that he has been freed by the war's conclusion. Essentially, both Caleb and John return to their roots because they feel trapped by their circumstances, and rely on Simon to hold things together and restore some normalcy. However, the fragile peace they share as they struggle together becomes jeopardized when John confides a secret about Simon's family to Caleb, information that could cause Simon to leave and leave the two young men literally and figuratively stranded.
Remaining shows are Sept. 30, Oct. 1, 3, 6, 7 and 8 at 8 p.m., and Oct. 2 at 2 p.m. There will be a thematic discussion after the matinee.
None too fragile is at 1841 Merriman Road in Akron, within Pub Bricco. For details or reservations, call 330-962-5547 or visit www.nonetoofragile.com online.