Like many other Southern parables, Marcus Gardley’s every tongue confess at Horizon Theatre takes the audience deep into the rural south, Alabama and Kentucky in this case, to set the stage for this moral tale of redemption.
Events are unusual in this small Alabama town: Ghosts, hail, fires and intense heat, which act as a metaphor to the inflamed passionate anger that simmers inside the characters of the play. Churches are burning and a mysterious man shows up at a faith healer’s home to save them all. A young girl witnesses her mother being shot during an argument and loses her ability to speak and must be sent to live with her estranged father, who has his own fiery temper engulf the town.
The show will not appeal to everyone (the magical realism can be off putting to some), but it is an inventive piece of art worth viewing. From the actors to the creative team, this production boasts some of Atlanta’s finest talent in top form.
Minka Wiltz is nothing short of phenomenal in the role of Mother Sister, the cold, caustic faith healer. When she gets wooed by Blacksmith (Victor Love), Wiltz subtly lets the character’s rough exterior break and a softer side appears. But, Wiltz is at her best in the final scene, where she displays a flurry of emotions that captivate the audience.
Similarly, Brian Kurlander creates a memorable role. His Stoker Pride fits the name well; the character rages through the production. Lauren Boyd gives a solid performance as his daughter. Other highlights include Love, who brings an audience-pleasing cachet to the character of Blacksmith as well as Bernardine Mitchell and Brad Raymond, who seamlessly switch between two characters each.
A unique and postmodern set designed by Moriah Curley-Clay and Isabel Curley-Clay complements Mary Parker’s lighting design. Both elements give the stage an almost surreal tone at times. Without them, Thomas W. Jones II’s staging of the magical realism would not work.
One of the season’s most provocative and creative works, every tongue confess plays through August 25, 2013 at Horizon Theatre. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website. The show’s runtime is two hours with an intermission.
– Kenny Norton