We tend to think American political animosity is a modern invention.
Jefferson and Hamilton loathed one another, and later, Jefferson and Adams loathed one another. Revolutionaries and Loyalists fought like cats and dogs (or like Clintons and Trumps). George Washington longed for respectful discourse, and almost nobody obliged.
In light of the current political atmosphere, Palm Beach Dramaworks is giving us 1776, in a fully staged production that relies upon nearly all of its cast members to play two characters. It’s a bow to the limited space in Dramaworks’ 218-seat theater, but the performance also asks actors to dig deep as they each portray characters with diametrically opposed viewpoints. (According to longtime area theater critic Hap Erstein, some achieve this more effectively than others.)
Clay Cartland plays both Thomas Jefferson and Georgia representative Lyman Hall. He describes a scene in which the secretary of the Second Continental Congress reads “a long list of useless committees.” Cartland says, “A lot of the themes still apply today. You know, you could turn on C-Span and see the same things, except people are wearing suits instead of waistcoats.”
The show opened Friday, July 1, and runs through July 24. Buy tickets online or call the box office at 561-514-4042, ext. 2.