“Poison Gun” is a story that has waited a long time to be told. Dee Freeman was a child living deep in rural Louisiana with her parents and her brothers and sisters on a farm right up the road from her beloved grandparents. This was more than 50 years ago when Black farmers were under even more pressure than now, when the law was definitely and unambiguously not on their side, and when Black lives mattered far far less. Although, I’m certain that there are many that would still say that nothing much as changed.
This story of “Poison Gun” is of course about race, because every moment of the lives of the subjects was about race, but the centre of it, the rotten core if you will, is about family. And what can happen when deep-seated resentment and cruelty grinds away humanity and love.
The story is simply said utterly riveting and Dee Freeman, an actress of considerable artistic and storytelling ability, spins the tale with only the kind of passion that comes from feeling the truth of it in her bones. Which of course she does, as “Poison Gun” is her family’s story she tells.
The performance is accompanied by beautiful old photographs of all the characters involved, which is moving and poignant and eerily echoing of the world she show us. As her tale unfolds, she becomes each of the characters without clumsy interchanges or gawky caricatures. You can tell she really remembers each and everyone of them. Yet, even those she has no love for are full of life. I wish I could tell you more. More about the twists and the turns of what I strongly believe could make an incredible film. But to tell you more would be to reveal too much.
Although, how Dee Freeman draws out the truth to almost the very end is astoundingly compelling and breathtaking. Literally.
Suffice it to say that this brilliantly written and superbly performed historical family drama is heartbreaking and funny and tragic and tender. We all have secrets in our families I suppose.
But, do yours include buried coffee cans full of moonshine money still hidden in their resting places to this day, or crimes long, long unpunished and ghosts never truly laid to rest?
I loved this “Poison Gun.” Dee Freeman is masterful in her delivery and full of the grace of her own life’s happiness and sorrows. Juliette Jeffers directs with care and kindness and gives the story the space it deserves to shine.
I hope Ms Freeman will perform this again, and soon. The Hollywood Fringe Festival perhaps? I know I would love to see it again!!