The Dramateurs at the Barn Playhouse are back at it again with their production of The Bridges of Madison County. Based on the novel by Robert James Waller, the story follows the life of Francesca, an Italian war bride living on a farm with her family in central Iowa.
Francesca longs for something more than the comfortable, yet somewhat cold marriage that brought her to the American Midwest. When her husband and two teenage children leave for a long weekend at the state fair, she meets the nomadic photographer, Robert Kincaid. Robert is in town to take photos of Madison County's famous covered bridges, and when he can't find one he enlists Francesca's help.
Over the next three days, the duo gradually begins to know each other and, in the process, discover something inside that they were once missing. Now, Francesca has a choice to make between the man she wholeheartedly loves or the life she’s made in Iowa.
Nina Harper shines in her role as leading lady, Francesca Johnson.
The mark of a superb performer lies in one’s ability to captivate the audience via the subtlest of techniques, and Harper does just that throughout her performance. The slightest twinge of emotion in her voice or genuine look of longing that Harper exhibits showcase the essence of Francesca’s emotionally exfoliating journey. It is an absolute joy to watch an actress play a character so perfectly suited for her.
Alongside Harper, Mitchell King stars as Robert. With a voice that is as soft and smooth as it is commanding, King’s performance perfectly captures the strong and sensitive duality that exists within Robert. He effortlessly embodies the essence of the love-weary traveler, his songs consisting of lyrics such as:
“I've been looking for something at every bridge that I cross,
And sometimes you can feel like time becomes unreal
When you're temporarily lost.”
Watching these two characters fall in love is made all the better by Harper and Mitchell’s excellent chemistry. The plot takes place over three days, which is a relatively short time to fall truly, madly, and deeply in love. But the subtleties exhibited by both Harper and King make the idea of two complete strangers falling so fast believable and beautiful.
Productions by the Dramateurs at the Barn Playhouse are consistently a joy to watch. The Bridges of Madison County is just another in a long line of shows that you don’t want to miss from this talented group of professionals located in the heart of Montgomery County.
The Bridges of Madison County runs through until June 23rd.