November 2001

"Grades six and up -- Based on Leo Tolstoy's short story, this adaptation is performed by The Perskey Ridge Players and takes place in turn-of-the century Montana rather than Russia. The narrator of the story is a colorful character who not only keeps the story moving along but also talks to Buck. Buck, a farmer trying to make a better life for himself and his wife, Irene, is the main character. The cowboy- like characters and the setting of the story are adapted so that audiences can relate and empathize with Buck and his plight. Buck is never satisfied with how much land or wealth he has acquired, so he schemes and strives for more and more until his greed kills him. Unlike the original short story, written in 1886, this version provides more comic relief with twists of irony. The introductory phase of the video, hosted by 13-year-old Preston Blakeley and his teacher, Professor Elizabeth McNamer, provides extensive biographical information on the author along with photographic stills and other historical trivia. At the end of the video, an analysis of the play is given with Preston and McNamer talking about the moral theme of the story. The video encourages viewer discussion. The accompanying paperback book includes Tolstoy's short story. This is an excellent program for classes to generate discussions about ethical and moral themes in literature." Mercedes Smith