The Belle of Amherst

Sonoma Arts Live
Runs through June 2, 2019

The Belle of Amherst
Jennifer King as the Belle of Amherst. Photo by Eric Chazankin

Whether you love Emily Dickinson’s poetry or are somewhat indifferent to it, you’re still likely to enjoy the lively portrayal of her in The Belle of Amherst, the one-woman show running for only two weekends at Sonoma Arts Live. Actress Jennifer King and director Sharon Winegar have worked diligently to create an engaging production that breathes new life into William Luce’s 1976 script.

But note: it’s important to stay the distance, commit to the whole evening (just under two hours total), as the script’s first act does not hint at the treasures to come in the second act. If you’re familiar with the play, or perhaps the classic film version starring Julie Harris, you’ll know this and your anticipation will be rewarded. If it’s a new script to you, be assured that the first act is laying the groundwork for the challenges to come.

Luce’s premise overall generates some disbelief—that Dickinson, famous recluse of Amherst, would open her parlor to strangers and spill her innermost thoughts, even share her poetry (that was unpublished in her lifetime), defies credibility. But it’s a device we can live with in order to understand and appreciate the unique and eccentric mind behind the luminous poetry. . . .

To continue reading about this production, see the full review at Talkin’Broadway:
The Belle of Amherst