by Jerome Lawrence
This play was a loose retelling of the real Scopes Monkey Trial. Two lawyers pitted themselves against each other to battle religious freedom and the role it plays in our educational system. A young teacher is arrested for teaching evolution in his classroom. His small town is up in arms over the matter and a pious lawyer, Brady, comes into town to rail on behalf of the injustice done to good Christians. The other lawyer, Drummond, is a soft-spoken man who has come to defend the teacher. Throw in the teacher’s girlfriend, who happens to be the town preacher’s daughter and you’ve got quite a mess.
This is definitely a fictionalized version of the real events, but it’s close enough to give us a peak into the fall reach the case had at the time. One of the most important characters, in my opinion, is the cynical reporter E. K. Hornbeck, who acts as the lens through which we see the trial unfold. His quick wit and sharp barbs provide humor, but he lacks the empathy of characters like Drummond.
The real crux of the play hinges on man’s ability to think for himself and form his own conclusions. That message is beautifully stated.
BOTTOM LINE: The play is excellent, the movie is excellent, and I can’t wait to see this one performed as a live play one day.
“Lady, when you lose your power to laugh, you lose your power to think straight."
“I’m sorry if I offend you. But I don’t swear just for the hell of it. You see, I figure language is a poor enough means of communication as it is. So we ought to use all the words we’ve got. Besides, there are damned few words that everybody understands.”