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BWW Review: THE BELLE OF AMHERST at Two River Theater-The Enchanting Biographical Drama of Emily Dickinson

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BWW Review: THE BELLE OF AMHERST at Two River Theater-The Enchanting Biographical Drama of Emily Dickinson

"I look at words as if they are entities, soaring beings."

by Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst

Two River Theater (TRT) continues its successful 2018/2019 Season with the American classic, The Belle of Amherst written by William Luce. The one-person play features the brilliant acting talent of Maureen Silliman as Emily Dickinson. Expertly directed by the Theater's Founder and Executive Producer, Robert Rechnitz, the production shines a light on the life, times, and works of the celebrated poet. We attended on opening night when the rapt audience gave the performance a standing ovation.

In the Belle of Amherst, Emily Dickinson tells the story of her life. It commences when the poet is a reclusive and rather eccentric middle-aged spinster living with her sister Lavinia in their family's homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts. As her account progresses, she speaks about her youth; relationships with family members and friends; romantic yearnings; provincial existence; fascination with the natural world; penchant for poetry; and struggles with the death of loved ones. William Luce's wonderfully crafted play is drawn from Dickinson's own writings, and it is an authentic portrait of the poet's complex personality.

BWW Review: THE BELLE OF AMHERST at Two River Theater-The Enchanting Biographical Drama of Emily Dickinson

Maureen Silliman is exceptional as Emily Dickinson. She masters the challenging role and also brings other characters to life through intimate conversations and musings. They include her father; Edward; brother, Austin; sister, Livinia; literary critic, Thomas Wentworth Higginson; and an elderly suitor, Judge Lord among others. Silliman portrays all of the charm, emotion, spirit, humor, and intensity that the role demands.

The creative team for The Belle of Amherst has done a marvelous job of creating the Dickinson's homestead setting. They include scenic design by Harry Feiner; costume design by Andrea Hood; lighting design by Andrew F. Griffin; sound design by Charles Coes & Nathan Roberts; and wig design by Cookie Jordan. The production stage manager is Larry Copeland.

BWW Review: THE BELLE OF AMHERST at Two River Theater-The Enchanting Biographical Drama of Emily Dickinson

Despite Dickinson's prolific writings, she had few poems published in her lifetime. Since her death in 1886, her remarkable talents have touched countless individuals. Seeing The Belle of Amherst is a must for poetry lovers and many, many more.

The Belle of Amherst will be performed in Two River's Rechnitz Theater, 21 Bridge Avenue through Sunday, May 5. The show runs for 2 hours with one intermission. Ticket prices range from $40 to $70, with discounts available for groups, seniors, and U.S. military personnel, their families, and veterans. A limited number of $20 tickets are available for every performance; $20 tickets may be partial view. Tickets for patrons under 30 are $20 and include the best available seats at every performance. Tickets are available from https://tworivertheater.org/ or 732.345.1400.

Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson


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