Review: Now through Sunday, Driftwood’s ‘Fruits of the Harvest’ offers heartfelt, gripping drama

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Fruits of the Harvest cast, from left: Gabriel Ponce, Anne Arnhold, Boyd Morrison, Sarita Benson, Bonnie Ronan, and Anne Olsen. (Photo courtesy Driftwood Players)

Fruits of the Harvest

Friday – Saturday Jan. 12-13 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 14 at 2 p.m.
NOTE: Jan. 19-21 performances canceled

Edmonds Driftwood Players Presents
Theatre of Intriguing Possibilities

Wade James Theater
950 Main St.
Edmonds

Go back five generations and you find almost everyone on the farm. In a sense, unless you’re still farming, we’ve all left the farm at some point.

Quite simply, we were once largely an agrarian society and now we’re not. Some were drawn away by the allure of the big city, some were driven away by hard work, and some were dragged kicking and screaming by harsh reality.

Economic forces didn’t always make the transition easy. The farm exodus of the 1920s left fear that there wouldn’t be enough people left farming to feed us all. In the 1970s, the Brave New World of modern farm practices, technology and financing spelled doom to a lot of family farms. This is the time frame where the present story unfolds.

Fruits of the Harvest provides a gripping and gut-wrenching portrayal of the human impact to a single farm, of struggle and hardship, of the anguish of being forced to make life-altering decisions.

Driftwood’s latest play in their TIP (Theatre of Intriguing Possibilities) series will close Sunday, Jan. 14 (next weekend’s performances were canceled due to logistical issues) so you don’t have much time, but I left the theatre glad that I had the opportunity to see this excellent, locally-grown and all-organic production.

Fruits of the Harvest has the undeniable smack of reality to it. Local playwright Eric Bischoff knows that of which he writes. He lived it. He witnessed it. He explores fearlessly those emotions that come with this human struggle. Within the Hoffman family, each of the four principal characters carry their own burden, laid out before the audience with compassion and understanding.

Bischoff’s no stranger to the stage: He’s performed and directed countless plays and written a lot of comedy. Last year he won Driftwood’s Festival of Shorts Contest, singled out from over 400 submissions. He’s also written children’s theatre and musical comedies and variations thereof.

This, however, is his first production of a serious dramatic offering. With the help of director and co-director Sean and Pat McKay, and with strong performances by the entire cast, Bischoff is able to lay bare the classic dilemma where dreams meet reality. Where the way we’ve always done things runs head on into the barreling freight train of progress.

I remember those days. There were literally armed standoffs between bankers and the farmers who were desperately trying to hold on to the only thing they ever knew.
Willie Nelson and others traveled around doing Farm Aid concerts and tried to provide a healing balm to the devastated. But when the dust cleared, tens of thousands of family farms were no more.

Yet as much as Fruits is the tale of the struggling family farm, it is also the tale of the struggling family. Each character has a cross that they bear; a personal albatross around their neck. Individually, they suffer from addiction, disease, rejection, idealism, hopelessness and avarice. Together, there is a dance of dysfunction we can probably all identify with at some level.

I spoke to most of the cast after their opening performances last night. They all looked a little wrung out. It’s no small feat raising the volume from minor disaster to major catastrophe in a continuous crescendo. Rehearsals began back in early November; each cast member came to the stage knowing their character intimately. Their roles required serious emotional “chops” — and they pulled it off admirably. My hat’s off to each of them.

Driftwood’s Theatre of Intriguing Possibilities provides an avenue for worthy plays that might not otherwise have the opportunity to be performed.

This is not just another crowd-pleasing bagatelle designed to help pay for the new carpet. This is a real, heartfelt, gripping, poignant drama. Arrange to see this production if you can.

— By James Spangler

1 COMMENT

  1. Just to be clear, I DO appreciate the new carpet and the need for crowd pleasing shows. I’m just grateful that Driftwood has made room for their TIP series as well!




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