A Young Woman’s Love Letter to “Roe”
Photo Credit: Andrea Klohn
When it comes to history, there are always more stories than we know.
More perspectives, more details and—most importantly—more truths. That’s the case Lisa Loomer’s Roe makes in regard to the Roe v. Wade case from the 1970s. Between young attorney Sarah Weddington (Christina Hall) and Norma McCorvey aka Jane Roe (Kate Middleton,) the truth could not be more different. Even from the perspective of the women fighting for a woman’s right to choose there were differences of opinion.
And now, all these decades later, Sarah and Norma’s interpersonal struggles take the stage with a little help from their books on the benchmark Supreme Court case.
As a young woman, I’ve never lived in an America without Roe v. Wade. From the reactions of elderly female audience members last night at the Goodman as well as the anecdotal evidence of Loomer’s play, I’m very grateful for that. Politicians love to spend time refuting the landmark case but never talking about the people, the women, behind it.
Goodman Theatre’s cast, whether heartened to the audience or not, are a hearty bunch. They must withstand the contentious air in a theater where at the drop of a hat, the play’s entire context could change. They must endure the disgusted sighs, the chortles, the groans, and the hushed hoorahs.
And thank goodness for Jessica Dean Turner’s character Barbara who interjects to remind us of the even uglier side of reproductive rights and lack thereof for the women of color in America. Loomer’s play attacks this era on all sides although the atrocities forced upon the communities of color would call for an entire series of staged works that still would not suffice in telling their stories.
Overshadowed by the columns of government, a set looming large over the characters by Collette Pollard, the persons on stage shrink beneath the government behemoth. Like the “wah-wah” teacher of The Peanuts, the great Supreme Court leaders are heard but not seen. Like a god voice reigning down on the small people below they boom through the theater.
And, like ants gathered in an anthill, we look up to the supertitles appearing between the columns on stage. We read as our history is repeated back to us. As relevant as it ever was. As changeable as it ever was.
And we are reminded that there are many sides to a story and, like it or not, history may remember all of it.