A Mighty 'Wind'

By Vitello, Barbara | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 14, 2006 | Go to article overview

A Mighty 'Wind'


Vitello, Barbara, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Barbara Vitello Daily Herald Critic at Large

"Inherit the Wind"

* * * 1/2 out of four

Location: Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie

Times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday through Nov. 12

Running time: About two hours, 10 minutes including intermission

Parking: Lot adjacent to theater

Tickets: $34-$56

Box office: (847) 673-6300 or www.northlight.org

Rating: For all ages

In the 19th century, Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species" ignited controversy.

In the early 20th century, it sparked a furious evolution versus creationism debate that culminated in the famous 1925 trial of John Scopes, charged with teaching evolution in violation of Tennessee state law. Dubbed the "Scopes Monkey Trial," it pitted lawyer- statesman and devout Christian William Jennings Bryan against civil libertarian attorney Clarence Darrow.

In the 21st century, the science versus faith battle still rages. While it has shifted from creationism to intelligent design, it unfolded the same way: in a courtroom in middle America. Eighty- one years after Scopes v. the State of Tennessee, 2006's Kitzmiller v. the Dover Area School District, where parents challenged the Pennsylvania school board's inclusion of Intelligent Design as part of the science curriculum, once again addressed evolution education.

If timing is everything, Northlight Theatre's topnotch revival of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee's 1955 play "Inherit the Wind" comes at the right time. Inspired by the Scopes trial, but taking liberties with the facts, it is neither history nor journalism, but theater. The play is about intellectual freedom, challenging the status quo and defending one's convictions. Like Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," this droll, prophetic courtroom drama is a form of social criticism, a not-so-veiled response to the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings of the 1950s. …

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