COURTESY OF T. CHARLES ERICKSON
What would it have been like to witness a conversation between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass?
The historical drama “Necessary Sacrifices,” which made its world premiere at the Ford’s Theatre Jan. 26, explores this question.
This piece was the creation of playwright Richard Hellensen, who had written other plays for Ford’s Theatre such as “One Destiny.”
In an interview with The Eagle, Hellensen discussed his inspiration for the work.
“The collision of history and theatre really appealed to me, and working with Ford’s has been a good amalgamation of the two,” Hellensen said.
Directing this historical drama is Jennifer L. Nelson and portraying these historic icons are Craig Wallace as Douglass and David Selby as Lincoln.
Wallace was rather stoic in his portrayal, strongly conveying the struggle that Douglass endured to make it to the position of leadership he had as an African American in the time of the Civil War.
In contrast Selby was rather lighthearted as Lincoln.
He provided the few instances of comic relief in the show and had a rather unique Southern-mixed-with-Midwest accent, even though Lincoln was actually from Kentucky.
Together the two made a great pair.
The show was literally a series of conversations between them for two hours, so it was crucial that they had a strong chemistry.
The overall humor of the play was very dry. None of the jokes were funny in a contemporary sense. To find humor in the show, one would have to appreciate historical jokes about slavery, women’s rights and small pox.
Despite the rather intimate content of the play and the small cast, the set was very grand.
Most of the show took place in Lincoln’s office, which rolled on and off of the stage to be concealed behind a screen when needed for scenes that featured only Douglass or Lincoln.
The most interesting parts of the set were the two main entrances on either side of the stage that were marked by doorframes. For no reason that would seem cohesive to the rest of the set, there were several doorframes receding from the main ones. They odd, but not much action occurred in them to be distracting from the main action of the show.
“Necessary Sacrifices” will be at the Ford’s Theatre through Feb. 18.