Depression Lives

Soon of a Mornin': The Story of Gee's Bend Farms feels like the bare bones of a narrative that's wanting for more voices and more space to do it justice. After its one-hour run time has ended, your interest is piqued and you've definitely been entertained, but you feel as though you've been skimming the surface of these people's lives and could stand to go much, much deeper. Andrea Frierson-Toney has borrowed from the pages of early 20th-century American history to recount the story of Gee's Bend, Ala., and the slave-descendant quilters and farmers who lived there during the height of the Great Depression. We hear much of that story in the form of letters written by Annie Chambers (Megan Magil) and Freidberg (Fred Rose), who have been sent to Gee's Bend by the Farm Securities Administration.

Annie is a nurse whose modern practices, like sterilization and proper nutrition, are at odds with superstition and homemade remedies, while Freidberg is simply fascinated with the religious rituals and backbreaking work that he photographs. The interaction between these two outsiders and the community they've entered does not arrive fast enough or happen often enough. The play begins with their arrival at Gee's Bend by river raft, but they do not actually speak to the townspeople until several scenes later. Their arrival

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