By: Sandi Durell




Move over King, it’s time for Pulitizer Prize & Tony winner Beth Henley (Crimes of the Heart) to take control of eerie, uncomfortable hauntings.  The Jacksonian, currently at the Acorn Theatre on West 42nd Street’s Theater Row, takes place in a sleaze bag looking motel in December 1964 segregated Mississippi in this Southern Gothic murder mystery.


A bloody shirt in the character of Bill Perch (Ed Harris), is getting ice, while his 16 year old pimply faced smarty pants daughter Rosy (Juliet Brett) plays narrator wrapped in a blanket talking about murder.


Slicked back hair, pompadour and southern drawl greet the audience in the “Elvis” looking character of Fred (Bill Pullman), a questionable seedy looking-sounding bartender.  He’s being pursued by the racially bigoted motel maid Eva (sexy, flirty Glenne Headly), desperate to get married and to whom he is kind of engaged, until he claims he’s a dead man . . . about to die. But as we soon find out, Fred does have a thing for young teen girls ala Rosy.


Sluty Eva, on the other hand, doesn’t worry about a thing because she says God will forgive her, every Sunday, like a regular bowel movement!


It seems that Bill, a dentist, spends too much time inhaling his own nitrous oxide with a chaser of morphine – – in fact, he wound up pulling all of a patient’s teeth (whoops), which is why he’s experiencing a “lull” in business.  Even when he’s rolling around with Eva in his room, he’s too busy exploring her teeth and getting high than getting down to business.


Dark humor pervades in this group of dysfunctional characters, including Bill’s psychotic wife Susan (Amy Madigan) who comes to visit Bill at the motel where he’s been residing since their separation. She erupts like a volcano at a moment’s notice. And, alas, she pays the price in this bloody whodunit of rotten, decayed humanity.


It’s 1 hr. 25 minutes of intense, scary and sinister performances uniquely directed by Robert Falls. Kudos to Beth Henley and a top notch cast capable of riveting the audience.


The set design is by Walt Spangler with lighting by Daniel Ionazzi, composition and sound by Richard Woodbury and costumes by Ana Kuzmanic in this New Group production that originated at the Geffen Playhouse.

*Photos: Monique Carboni

The Jacksonian continues thru Dec. 22nd 212 239-6200