It's hard to imagine a play focused on slavery putting slavery second, but that's what Amazing Grace does in favor of telling the redemption story about the man who penned the famous hymn. John Newton is a compelling character in his own right, but his undoing in this show comes from too much focus on the love story between him and his beloved Mary.
As the curtain closes, Amazing Grace gets a standing ovation, with shouts and tears to boot. Maybe, I missed something. Maybe, I don't understand. It's okay that I don't like it because someone else did. But for me, it is not enough. It's too trapped in "history" to acknowledge the history that resides inside us.
In my life as a lawyer, I've been privileged to play a role in exonerating a number of innocent men and women. But last week, as I sat in a Brooklyn courtroom, waiting for State Supreme Court Judge Matthew J. D'Emic to vacate the convictions of David McCallum and Willie Stuckey, I knew I was witnessing something special.