Indiana Repertory Theatre
Directed by Peter Amster
This isn't your dad's Lincoln, all "four-score and seven years ago." This Abraham Lincoln recites Shakespeare, flip-flops about freeing the slaves, and is brought to his knees in despair over his son's death and war's carnage. IRT playwright-in-residence James Still (Interpreting William, Iron Kisses) premiered this moving, often funny, portrait of our Civil War leader last February at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. Here, directed by Peter Amster (Our Town), The Heavens Are Hung in Black should please theater goers for the way it makes a life out of the facts and quotes that will so please the history buffs. As the depressive, insomniac president, Nicholas Hormann makes it seem possible for an effective leader to be at once weak and wise, egotistical and sensitive, ridiculous and presidential. About a dozen other actors play the characters in his real life (wife Mary Todd, son Tad, and advisers like William Seward) and the ghosts that haunt his waking dreams (including slave Dred Scott and abolitionist John Brown). Another beautiful set by Russell Metheny (Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure) shifts nimbly from Lincoln's wood trimmed office through his nighttime wanderings and weary imaginings. Heavens is a humanist lesson rather than a patriotic one, telling us that tough times are overcome not by great leaders but imperfect ones. Thank goodness. That's all we've got. 635-5252, www.irtlive.com. Through October 25.