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THE DALLAS EXAMINER, "A Closer Look at Your World..."

Thursday, July 13, 1995, Volume IX, Number 26

"PLAYWRIGHT'S TABULA"

"TABULA RASA -- something existing in its original or pristine state. Keeping in the tradition of Southern storytelling, Molly Louise Shepard's new play, TABULA RASA, resounds. Set in the late Seventies, in a small fictitious East Texas town, this profoundly poetic comedic drama reads like a patchwork quilt. It is a piece filled with the 'ways' and mysteries of the exotic, strangely familiar people of this brutal, beautiful place we call home, 'The South'. At its best, Shepard has written a rich, spiritually haunting piece about humanity. It is an important play in these times. These seemingly ugly, unloving times. In her words, 'This play examines the ties that bind, and the mystery that is eternal love.' Friendship, love, these are the threads that 'bind' the play's two main characters, 'Thadia Eadom' and "Toxie Merriweather'. 'Thadia', a winsome nineteen year old aspiring photographer, Caucasian; and 'Toxie', and eccentric eighty year old African-American woman, widowed and childless due to a tragic accident fort-five years earlier, find 'kindred spirits' in each other. Humanity and love prevail, in spite of it all. In spite of the whispering trees, and the people. The beauty of this play also lies in the haunting quality of the presence of spirits among the reality of everyday life. Whether the 'spirit' be that of the eerie presence of 'Jynx' and 'Samuel', 'Toxie's' late husband and sixteen year-old daughter. The quiet recitation of Biblical scriptures. A 'Black Jesus' amidst an abandoned graveyard, or the Ramsey mansion, a 'house' of secrets. Ms. Shepard, who has been produced by professional theatres in Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth and New Orleans, keeps no secrets in acknowledging the source of her creativity. 'It's not me. I'm just a vessel. It's God.' She's a Southern Gothic writer, reminiscent of Faulker ... [Mary] Beth Henley; and Tennessee Williams. In great company. Molly Louise Shepard has truly written a 'gem'."

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