An artful blend of theater and history thrives among the tombstones at Old Swedes Church with the enchanting tale of a lovelorn young woman who has mysteriously vanished into the same woods the love of her life once traversed, 400 years ago. No trace of her is ever found, but her journal provides compelling insights, including how and why she came to fall for seventeenth-century Dutch rebel and hero, Adriaen van der Donck, liberator of New Netherland (Dutch Manhattan). As the missing woman’s sorrowed stepsister (Amanda Schoonover) compassionately recounts her sister’s enigmatic story through memoir, time and space become enchantingly intertwined within the intimate churchyard amphitheater.
In Gerhardus C. Van Wilgen’s appealing world-premiere play, I <3 ADRIAEN (I <3 AvdD in the Fringe Guide), directed by Greg Giovanni, the past is sweetly, and smartly presented, wrapped in an intriguingly irregular romance, and delivered with poised intensity edged by myriad emotions by Schoonover. Anyone unfamiliar with Adriaen van der Donck, NYC early settler, lawyer, chronicler, Native American ethnographer, and freedom fighting proponent of independence, will be inspired to learn more about this medieval freedom fighter by virtue of this enjoyably elucidating production. Luckily, a convenient bibliography is provided within the program, and of course, there is the Internet as well as ye olde library!
As for the missing young woman in the narrative, her stepsister’s hopes that that she may somehow be with her love on another planet, or on the Moon, echo in the imagination …
[Gloria Deo 'Old Swedes' Church, South Philadelphia] September 18-21, 2018; fringearts.com/event/i-avdd