On Christmas Eve in 1864, Several lives intertwine on the Potomac River in Paula Vogel’s A Civil War Christmas, in performances right now at New York Theatre Workshop. With so many actors appearing, no one gets the spotlight for long. This leaves you wondering of what will happen next and keeps you at the end of your seat. Paula Vogel uses constant motion in the play to create a real life effect. The characters are always on stage to remind you of the other lives that are being affected. Costume changes take place on the side of the stage, and a second tier gives a new sense of scenery.
The characters range from a middle aged man playing President Lincoln, to a small child, Jesse who is left to find her mother in Washington D.C. Many actors switch roles to portray a variety of people. Some women play a man, and some men play a horse. These particular roles bring humor to an otherwise dark play.
Placing Christmas and the Civil War together is not a common thought. For so many, Christmas is a time of joy and peace while the Civil War was one of our country’s most horrifying events. The play gives a true interpretation of what it would have been like for a mourning mother, a young girl, a newly freed slave, brave soldiers and the president of the United States. The Christmas carols sung throughout the play are my favorite parts of the show. They seem to fit perfectly within the scenes. It reminds you of the days that are approaching and the spirit of Christmas seems to fill the room with happiness. All in all, I think Paula Vogel did a spectacular job and I would definitely go and see A Civil War Christmas again.