The Hollow at Signature Theatre

The Tony-winning theatre company starts there new season off with a twist; two shows in rep at the same time. The two musicals are new works and that is great to see.

Saw The Hollow last night and thought it was fantastic. The voices were all strong and most of the performances were excellent. Matt Connor’s music is not of the style where you will whistle most of the songs on your drive to work. The songs and music fit the book perfectly.

The theater describes the show: From the composer of Nevermore and Partial Eclipse, The Hollow is a chilling musical reinterpretation of the classic thriller The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. In a devout 18th century village, a mysterious stranger spreading radically new ideas challenges the traditional order. However, when rumors spread of a headless horseman murdering friends and neighbors, the townsfolk blame the outsider for this demonic curse.

The musical made me think about human beings acting in tribal ways and about the ability to use fear to maintain power. The citizens of the town are of Dutch descent and they look askance at outsiders, particularly New Englanders (who represent the English who defeated their Dutch ancestors).

This tribal/ethnic worldview is currently dominant in Iraq and Afghanistan and will be rearing its ugly head in Lybia soon. The divisions will make forming a nation state a challenge and will promote sectarian violence and cronyism is government. The US military is in the middle of these struggles with no end in sight and it is costing this country a great deal of money in a time when we need money to address a declining economy.

The show brought up thoughts on how fear is used to retain power. There are authoritarian regimes that use real fearful things, like the threat to kill, to retain power. In the Hollow one is left to wonder if killing is also being used to maintain control. The religious right is also using fear as a device to gain and retain power in the US.  They have demonized Obama in a similar way to the character in the show and have blamed circumstances ranging from health care costs to the debt on his Presidency.

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