Troy Foundry Theatre kicked off its 2020 Dark Day Monday series with a reading/production of The Life (& Afterlife) of Uncle Sam, by Matthew Sekellick, originally from the capital region, but now making his home in Philadelphia.
Normally on Dark Day Mondays, the actors will stand on stage and read the play, following stage directions. Not so this time. For this production, the ensemble were moving around the theatre-in-the-round stage setting, carrying their copies of the script in binders. With the exception of Ethan Botwick (Uncle Sam), everyone played multiple roles.
Uncle Sam is not only a two act play, but each act is as distinct and unique.
The first half is a biography of the Wilson brothers, Sam and Ebenezer, as they traveled from New Hampshire to Troy in search of, at first, adventure, then, building their careers in industry. Sekellick's script references some South Troy landmarks, including the Burden Water Wheel, and notes how the Wilsons' meat & brick business gained the attention of the government prior to not only the War of 1812, but also the Civil War.
The second half is mostly Sam reappearing in the 21st century, and stunned by the state of the city he has called home, even more so by the more blatant use of coarse language in everyday conversation. The culture shock unsettles him, sure, but his interaction with a present day postal carrier (K. D. McTeigue) is an indicator of how today's society has forgotten him.
Some of the Foundry Theatre crew think this will eventually end up on Broadway. In all honesty, because of its local roots, a full on production would make for a collaboration between the Foundry Theatre and either the Theatre Institute at Sage or Capital Rep before it heads downstate.
Creative Director David Girard shared that later this spring, the company will present a production of Julius Caesar at an as yet unrevealed site. Plans call for this production to debut in mid-May. The Troy Foundry Theatre will be based at the Trojan Hotel going forward, and they are looking at submissions for the next Dark Day Mondays event, date to be determined.
The Life (& Afterlife) of Uncle Sam gets an A.