It's a dicey time in any family: the moment when a child first learns that a cherished belief about a beloved ancestor isn't exactly the truth.
But the timing is particularly problematic for Emma Joseph, the central character in Deep Dish Theater's season opener, After the Revolution. Fresh out of law school, Emma has been bred to be the new standard-bearer for a family steeped in far-left political activism, dating back to the blacklisting of Joe, her famous grandfather, during the McCarthy era. But now her father is suddenly telling her it might not have been such a good move to name her new high-profile legal defense fund after Joe. It turns out there's a problem with that legacy, one that Emma's father has kept hidden from her all her life.
Amy Herzog's domestic and political drama does more than ask what changes in families, beliefs and praxis when long-held heroes are discovered to have had feet of clay. The mostly positive responses to its off-Broadway premiere late last fall praised the critical insights and disquieting conclusions of a family whose characters have collectively faced the front lines of liberal politics in America for a half century or more. The Village Voice praised the play for providing a "novel sight onstage of a leftist family actually discussing politics instead of merely pulling political attitudes."
Just nine months after the production's New York bow, artistic director Paul Frellick leads a cast including Rod Rich, Jack Prather, John Paul Middlesworth and stage veteran Patsy Clarke. The show runs Wednesdays—Sundays through Sept. 17 at the Deep Dish Theater space in Chapel Hill's University Mall. Tickets are $12–$19, with a $9 "Cheap Dish" night Aug. 31. —Byron Woods