July 31, 2003



Witty historical production earns well-deserved standing ovation

By just naming her historical production about Yellow Springs The Peculiarly Salubrious, Singular and Curious, Mildly Outrageous and Sometimes Lugubrious History of a Natural Spring and the Community that Grew Up Around It, Louise Smith created a stir. With such a long, complex and outlandish title, this theater piece was certain to get people’s attention — before it hit the stage.

But once you saw the production — it was certainly more than a simple play — the title made a little more sense. The performance, presented by the Antioch Area Theater and the Yellow Springs Historical Society two weeks ago at the Antioch Amphitheater, was a clever, witty piece of theater. Put together in honor of Antioch’s sesquicentennial and the 200th anniversary of the founding of Yellow Springs, the production re-enacted and highlighted some of the community’s more interesting people and events.

As Louise Smith, a theater professor at Antioch College, said in her notes about the production in the program, there is no way to tell 200 years of history in less than two hours. But those involved in the production did a great job trying. Through smart dialogue and some big-show-type songs, the production dealt with both the successes and struggles of Antioch and Yellow Springs. It dealt with serious local issues, such as racism, classism and Antioch’s financial woes. It poked fun at Yellow Springs and Antioch, two communities that sometimes take themselves too seriously.

The production provided local residents with an entertaining evening that allowed us to reflect on our past and laugh at ourselves. Everyone who had a hand in the production — which, based on names listed in the program, numbered about 53 — deserves a standing ovation.

—Robert Mihalek