The Grapes of Wrath
In 1990 Director Frank Galati’s adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic novel "The Grapes of Wrath" premiered on Broadway to much acclaim, seven Tony nominations and two wins for Best Director and Best Play. Galati’s production of "The Grapes of Wrath" opened Monday night at the Watertower Theatre directed by Terry Martin. It’s harsh. It’s disturbing. It’s devastating.
Steinbeck was reaching for the jugular when he wrote about the strength and vulnerability of the human spirit when faced with an unrelenting adversity. In writing about the deplorable plight and working conditions of migrant farm workers during the Great Depression, Steinbeck exposed the evil capable in man and ruthlessly showcased the breaking point of man’s essence.
"The Grapes of Wrath" earned Steinbeck the Pulitzer Prize and eventually became a curriculum staple in high school and college literature classes.
"The Grapes of Wrath" tells the story of the Joad family. The Joads were a hard working but poor family trying to farm the Oklahoma soil during the Dust Bowl and The Great Depression. Life as they knew it shriveled and died with their crops. The Joads sold everything they owned and headed west to green and sunny California where jobs were said to be plentiful.
But the Joads were not alone. Thousands of "Okies" journeyed across the country dreaming of better wages and better lives. None of them expected or were prepared for what they faced.
Director Terry Martin appropriately takes the stark and minimalist approach. The only prop is the moveable jalopy that carries the Joads across the desert. The acting is top notch across the board. But Cameron Cobb (Tom Joad) and Stephanie Dunham (Ma) are brutally startling as their characters watch their dreams become needs and then realize their needs are unattainable. Lastly, the final image of Mikaela Krantz as Rose of Sharon will haunt you.