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FRINGE REVIEW: Our Last White Night

"If we cannot live in peace, then we shall die in peace," says Jim Jones over a taped recording at the start of the play. On November 18, 1978, over 900 Americans voluntarily swallow poison mixed in some Kool-Aid and lay down to die with Jones. On the outskirts of the mad leader's compound, four teens argue whether to join the others at the pavilion or escape into the jungle. There is opportunity to try and make sense of why intelligent, middle-class Americans engaged in a mass murder-suicide at the behest of an insane leader, but "Our Last White Night" will not give such insights. Unfortunately, the script is an ABC After School Special set against the backdrop of one of the worst tragedies in the final quarter of the 20th-century. Forget that the "dad" these teens refer to is Jim Jones and the dialogue becomes all about teen rebellion, peer-bonding, and working through turbulent relationships. At times the drama does touch on the magnitude of the Jonestown horror when one of the true believers actually hears the painful cries of infants as poison is forced down their throats, but the action shifts quickly into a melodramatic teen version of Sophie's Choice. The cast in earnest but the teen angst doesn't juxtapose well with such an incredible historical tragedy.

Two out of five stars.

more in Fringe Reviews     |     posted Aug 15th, 2010 at 2pm     

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