Sunday, March 27, 2016

MOLLY’S HAMMER • The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (Studio Theatre)

In the 1980’s, the threat of nuclear war hung heavy over the country like radioactive ash. That threat, and Liane Ellison Norman's book, Hammer of Justice, inspired Tammy Ryan’s play, receiving its world premiere, thanks to the Rep’s Ignite! New Play Festival last season.

The story follows Molly Rush, a member of a group of peace advocates called the Plowshares Eight. In 1980, they entered the General Electric Re-entry Division in Pennsylvania, damaged nuclear nose cones and drenched blueprints and documents in blood. Ryan’s play focuses in on Molly Rush, a mother of six whose faith drives her and others to do what they feel is a moral responsibility, and Nancy Bell beautifully holds the center as Molly.

Molly Rush (Nancy Bell).
Photo credit: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
From the time we meet her washing dishes at the start, to her growing resolve as she’s pulled deeper into the cause, to her exhilaration when she marches into the nuclear missile facility, she displays an indomitable, introspective spirit that holds your attention from start to finish. Joe Osheroff is Molly’s husband Bill who feels like their marriage is taking a back seat to her new friends and determination to carry out an act of civil disobedience, even under threat of jail time. Kevin Orton is activist Daniel Berrigan, another member of the Plowshares Eight, and everyone else in the play -- from Molly’s children and siblings, to a prison cell-mate and judge.

Bill Rush (Joe Osheroff).
Photo credit: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
Mark Wilson lights the play, and provides projections that feature various locations and powerful images of mushroom clouds. It plays well against Gianni Downs’s stark scenic design, featuring a wall of mixed rectangular panels.

The threat of nuclear war is something we have probably all but forgotten about nowadays, with a new variety of threats popping up with disturbing frequency. Molly's journey, displayed one step at a time, makes us all want to be courageous. Only a couple more chances to check it out at the Rep. It’s an intimate performance worth your while.


Molly Rush (Nancy Bell)
and her 12-year-old son Greg (Kevin Orton).
Photo credit: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.
MOLLY’S HAMMER

Written by Tammy Ryan
Based on the book Hammer of Justice by Liane Ellison Norman
Directed by Seth Gordon
Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road
through March 27 | tickets: $50 - $65
Performances Tuesdays at 7pm, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 4pm, selected Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2 pm and 7pm

Cast
Molly Rush: Nancy Bell*
Bill Rush: Joe Osheroff*
Daniel Berrigan and others: Kevin Orton*

Creative
Scenic Designer: Gianni Downs
Costume Designer: Lou Bird
Lighting and Projections Designer: Mark Wilson
Sound Designer: Amanda Werre
Casting Directors: Rich Cole and Bob Cline
Stage Manager: Shannon B. Sturgis*

* Denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of
Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States

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