The play revolves around the birth of little Abe who later became president. Records of Bostic’s Concord Baptist Church list Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks, as a church member at the time of his birth, suggesting he was born out of wedlock in Rutherford County, NC.
Granny Hollifield, well played by Ruth Bennett bookends the play with a narrative on her memories of Abe’s birth.
Mr. Wilkie has provided luscious Southern lines for his actors and only on occasion do we find a preaching stance from Abraham Enloe whose “good man” character is well demonstrated by Richard Brown. Brown embraces the Southern gentleman facade.
Lots of comic relief with Sarah Enloe whose stern righteous manner is played by Christy Ayers. Ayers’ tempestuous role makes her a powerful presence on and off stage, but Ms. Ayers keeps the focus as an ensemble. Well done.
The drama unfolds with Nancy Hanks, Abraham Lincoln’s mother, arriving in North Carolina with her momma and her sister. Through a string of unfortunate events and heartbreaks, Nancy Hanks’ relationships with the Enloe family leads her to being an unwed mother with an illegitamate child forced into somewhat desperate situations.
Rebecca Quinton in her debut role plays Hanks with the sweetness of nature that was believable without being trite or cliche. Her acapella rendition of Mr. Strickland’s song soared in the Concord church.
While the play moved quickly, the choppy scenes and the casting of actors in multiple roles made it difficult at times to keep focused on the story. There was power in the telling, but some creative combining of scenes would have been easier with less set changes, costume changes, etc. The set crew moved with remarkable precision.
The performance of Edward Harrelson as Tom Lincoln who appears late in the play was excellent. Unfortunately, he also played John C. Calhoun and Dick Hanks, Nancy’s uncle which distracted from his identification as Tom Lincoln.
While Becky Humphries and Les Beale were both good as Nancy Enloe and John Thompson, if the play was to be trimmed it seems their roles in advancing the story were to simply provide word back to Abraham Enloe about the circumstances with Nancy Hanks in her marriage to Lincoln.
Mrs. Byrd, renter of the Enloe farm, is ably played by Deany Martin. She had the right touch of concern without being overplayed.
Overall, the audience of over a 100 seemed to enjoy the play based on their own local history. Congratulations RCT.