The Eclectic Society

Last night, Leanne and I enjoyed the 3rd of 5 shows in this year’s Walnut Street Theater season.  We’ve already seen Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Oliver – both musicals.  WST is now running a new play called The Eclectic Society.

The play is set in the fraternity house of an east coast all male school in the fall of 1963 as the fraternity is going through the pledge process of accepting new freshmen into the house.  The school (and fraternity) is traditionally an all white school.  However, this was changed a couple of years ago when both the school and fraternity accepted its first black student who earns his place by excelling in sports.  The Eclectic Society which prides itself on the well rounded students that are represented in the house is split when the fraternity is faced with accepting its second black member who doesn’t carry the traditional traits of an Eclectic Society member – he’s from the ghettos of Cleveland, he isn’t paying his own way to the school, and he needs extra financial support to survive the day-to-day expenses of campus living.

Without giving away the play, The Eclectic Society raises questions related to racial harmony during this time in the history of our country, but it also forces one to ask if things have changed much since.  Sure, we have our first African-American president.  Sure, there is more diversity across many aspects of our American culture.  But you have to ask if everything has been done to carry out the dream voiced by Martin Luther King.  Do we look at people as equals?  Do we look at all people as being created in God’s image?  Do we rejoice and acknowledge how God made us all special with something to give?

These are some of the thoughts that were raised last night.

To finish out my review, the set and costumes and WST were fantastic as always.  The actors did a fabulous job.  I would not recommend this play to children due to language, a couple of fight scenes, subject, and one “mooning” scene.  But I would recommend the play to anyone else who wants to be challenged and entertained at the same time.

I’m looking forward to our next two shows as we finish out the season at WST – Fallen Angels and Fiddler on the Roof.  Should be a great finish.