The Williamston Theater’s most recent production, and last play of the season, takes a close look at what it’s like to leave everything you’ve once known and start your life again, in a place that you never thought you would.
“And The Creek Don’t Rise,” written by Joseph Zettelmaier and directed by Joseph Albright, takes a couple from Michigan and puts them in Carson, Georgia, all set in the present day.
It’s made clear early on that Rob, played by John Lepard, isn’t exactly thrilled about the move, but as anyone knows in this economy you go where you can find a job and his much younger wife, Maddie, played by Kate Peckham, found one.
“This is not a town, it’s where culture goes to die,” Rob tells his wife Maddie in the opening scene after being scared by a possum.
While Rob isn’t a fan of Carson, Georgia, his neighbor, Dr. Benjamin “Doc” Boggs, played by Thomas D. Mahard, has a very different few of his beloved home, a place where Southern hospitality and being neighborly is still very much alive.
After bringing over peach preserves he asks Rob if he would “like to join the South in a glorious battle,” and this is where the real fun of the show begins, bringing out not only the Civil War but leading to a war between neighbors, in which the phrase “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” has never been more true.
Even though some of the pranks are more simple, such as when Rob puts Doc’s dog in a Yankees uniform, others are much more devious, like when Doc gets a friend to hire Rob as a secretary at a Toyota dealership, which is like working for the enemy when you’re from Detroit.
Throughout the battle is where Lepard’s and Mahard’s comedic chops really shine, with a few cracks at Detroit and a few about being a red neck hick among other moments, but it’s in the second act of the play where the characters are given much more emotional depth, something that I wish I could have seen a little more of.
While most of the focus is on Lepard and Mahard, who both give excellent performances, Peckham proves throughout that she can keep up with the boys, making her a notable standout. She may be quite a bit younger than Rob but it’s shown time and time again that she’s the one in control; even with something as simple as the look she gives her husband. Maddie is also an unbelievable strong woman, who tries to see the best in their situation even when Rob can’t, a difficult task when your husband is reluctant to change.
In one of the last moments of the play Doc tells Rob how even though the South lost in the Civil War they forgot that they were all brothers, North and South, which plays as a nice symbolism to the relationship between Rob and Doc, showing that even though things may not go as planned accepting who people are is what really counts in the end.
Check out http://www.williamstontheatre.org/ for showtimes. “And The Creek Also Rises” is playing now until August 14th.