Frrom the Fall River Herald News (June 29):
A new play, “Lizzie Borden Took an Axe,” depicting the well known Lizzie Borden case will be staged in the city for the 119th anniversary of the hatchet murders of Andrew and Abby Borden.
There will be two performances on Aug. 5 and 6 at the Nagle Auditorium at B.M.C. Durfee High School by the Covey Theatre Company of Syracuse, N.Y.
Fresh from winning two Syracuse Area Live Theatre awards for Best Original Play and Best Costumes, as well as the Gloria Peter Playwright competition from Aurora, N.Y., “Lizzie Borden Took an Axe” left critics enthralled and Bordenophiles raving.
Author Garrett Heater, also the artistic director of The Covey Theatre Company, believes it is the most accurate retelling in play-form ever written.
Heater said the play is jam-packed with relevant details that will satisfy even the most demanding and scrutinizing Lizzie fan.
“There is no ‘fluff’ and absolutely nothing that is not relevant to the characters or the event itself,” Heater said.
The play aims to set itself apart from predecessors. The story begins with the mysterious Borden robbery in 1891 and ends in 1900 at Maplecroft.
Heater said he “researched countless sources and the real fun was stacking conflicting testimony against each other and representing those conflicting accounts on stage.”
Heater began writing the play on Aug. 3, 2010, the anniversary of the Borden murders. He said he woke one morning thinking about Lizzie Borden for “no apparent reason.” He researched Lizzie on-line and was “floored” by the amount of contrasting information that existed and said he was intrigued by “all the active conversation that occurs daily on the topic.”
Heater said he decided to write a play for “die hard” Lizzie fans “the toughest critics out there” that takes no liberties with the truth.
The play was written, cast and rehearsed, and finally brought to the stage in November 2010.
There are nine major characters in the show, including several who are often omitted in other play versions, including Lizzie’s friend Alice Russell and her uncle John Morse. There are no court room scenes, something Heater said has been overdone in the past.
Heater said the play infuses a healthy dose of humor that keeps audiences vacillating between comfort and dramatic intrigue.
It will neither confirm nor deny Lizzie’s participation in the murders. Lizzie was acquitted of the murders and went on to live the rest of her life in Fall River, while the case remains unsolved to this day.
“People who love the Lizzie Borden story are going to relish every moment of this piece,” Heater said. “I wrote this show with them in mind and used their imagined criticism to keep me grounded in fact and legitimacy. But, for those people who couldn’t care less about Lizzie, this play stands on its own as an exciting piece of drama.”
The play is in two acts and runs approximately two hours. Although the structure of the play is mostly chronological, there are moments when characters speak directly to the audience from different points in their lives, offering insights that would not normally be addressed during the well-known plot of the story.
Different motives for remaining mum will apply to each character, even the victims themselves.
“Andrew has skeletons and so does Abby,” explained Heater. “They are connected but far from the same. That is all I’m going to say about it,” he said. “Why spoil it for everyone?”
“Lizzie Borden Took an Axe” will be staged at the Nagle Auditorium at B.M.C. Durfee High School on Aug. 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased by calling 315-420-3729 or online at www.thecoveytheatrecompany.com. The Covey Theatre Company is located at 112 E. 7th St. Oswego, N.Y.
Email Deborah Allard at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve planned a trip to Fall River specifically to see this play!