Twilight at Monticello
Directed by Michael Carleton
Written by and Starring J.D. Sutton
UCF Shakespeare/Playlab series
Carl F Gauze
America was founded by mythic heroes, just like every great land. The pay is low, hours long, but you get your face on the pocket change, and that’s something. Tom Jefferson, retired to his mountain top country retreat, gently tolerates the audience tonight, as he chats about flowers, the plight of the Negro, the tabloid press, and the joys of writing for public comment. With a resume as comprehensive as his (did some pro bono work for the revolutionary congress, Ambassador, inventor, founded a University, even did that presidential thing) complete disclosure is out of the question. What we do cover in this rough draft of a one man play shows Jefferson as a concerned, liberal in the best sense of the word, and very human person. Better laws, better governance, loss of his wife and children, and agony for the souls he inherits drove him, and you will worry about these as well. He did have slaves, but it turns out you couldn’t just free them in 1820 – you’d have to send them to Illinois territory, which was worse than keeping them on the cotton field.
While the play as presented is still a work in progress, it shows great promises as a low keyed yet hugely entertaining evening spent with a man (Sutton) who knows and loves Jefferson as few do. While the topics covered sound heavy and polemic, the sense of the evening is time well spent with a funny and lovable uncle. The struggles Jefferson faced are the same struggles any public figure faces today . The hot topics of 1820 are still hot today, and not all that much has changes in 200 years. Well, one thing has. Our sentences are much shorter. That’s my 5 cents worth.