Take Me Back To Jefferson

Posted: Nov 11 2014

Theatre Smith-Gilmour's Take Me Back to Jefferson Is A Must-See

A dysfunctional family’s ill-fated journey through the farms and towns of Mississippi in the 1930s, Take Me Back to Jefferson delivers a patchwork of colourful characters and settings through little more than the highly physical performances of its seven actors. 

The play feels “big” and epic despite its minimalist lighting and sound effects. Author Michael Ondaatje was bang on in his comments that “you will swear you have seen live horses and rivers in flood and barns on fire...” 

Presented by Theatre Smith-Gilmour, the play is an original adaptation of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. The duo, Michele Smith and Dean Gilmour, co-wrote, directed and starred in the play along with a small, talented cast consisting of Nina Gilmour, Ben Muir, Daniel Roberts, Dan Watson and Julian De Zotti. 

This intense, at times tragic story of a family’s plight to bury their matriarch is punctuated with introspective monologues as well as comedic relief, as they grapple with grief, poverty, nature and humanity. 

Between the seven actors in the play, there are at least 19 different characters portrayed, which is part of what makes Jefferson such a tour-de-force. Though iconic, celebrated and critically acclaimed, Faulkner’s novel has seldom been adapted for screen or stage due to its experimental narrative techniques, lengthy stream-of-consciousness dialogue and daring use of over fifteen narrative voices. Yet brilliantly, this ambitious production pulls it off flawlessly - you are immediately absorbed in the story and immersed in the setting, transported to another time through the play’s talented conductors.

In a day and age when we are so inundated with technology, computer generated imagery and special effects, it’s refreshing to see how powerful and engaging a performance can be - full of action, suspense and conflict - while it relies heavily on back-to-basics theatre elements: the script, the stage and the actors. 

Take Me Back to Jefferson is on now until November 23rd at the Factory Theatre. Tickets range from $23-$40. You don’t want to miss this incredible, one-of-a-kind show.

(Article Contributed by Michelle Pinchev)
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