November-December 2001

3 1/2 STARS

"A few thousand years ago King Solomon said "In all thy getting, get thee wisdom." So how much "getting" is enough? And do we ever pick up wisdom along the way? These age-old questions are addressed in Globalstage's innovative theatre adaptation -- winningly performed by Montana's Perskey Ridge Players -- of Leo Tolstoy's titular short story, which shifts the time and setting of the original from Russia during the middle ages to the landgrabbing expansionist 1800's American West. When sharecropper Buck meets up with a stranger who encourages him to buy land, he does just that: over and over again, constantly trading up to greener pastures just past yonder fence -- so much so, in fact, that he eventually leaves his wife and family in search of a better deal. Ultimately, the wealthy Buck finds more than he bargained for in the Bashkirs (a nomadic band of women on horseback) who play on his greed and teach him a hard lesson. Designed for older school-aged children (grades 4-9) this and previously reviewed Globalstage titles (such as Pinocchio, Far From the Madding Crowd, Playing From the Heart and The Island of Dr. Moreau) provide an excellent supplement to theatre and world literature curriculum, while also offering quality entertainment for the whole family. Each title begins with a short biographical sketch of the author's life and an introduction to the featured work, followed by the performance itself, and finally a discussion of the themes found in the play. This excellent series is a must for school libraries and should prove to be very popular in public libraries as well. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED." L. Stevens