Lizzie Borden took an axe … or did she? 125 years later, the Crime of the Century still fascinates

Sofia Jean Gomez
Oliver Wadsworth

Penguin Rep Theatre presents the world premiere of “Fall River,” a new play by Frederick Stroppel, directed by Joe Brancato, beginning Friday, October 13.

Before O.J. Simpson, there was Lizzie Borden. Whether, as the children’s rhyme goes, she really took an axe and gave her mother 40 whacks, then turned and gave her father 41, we’ll never know for sure, but 125 years ago it was The Crime of the Century.

Was she a Sunday School teacher unfairly blamed for her parents’ deaths, or did she get away with murder?

“Friday the thirteenth is Lizzie’s lucky day,” says Brancato, “that’s when she finally gets to come clean about what really happened on that steamy day a century ago.”

“Lizzie and her infamous axe continue to fascinate us,” he explains, “and have inspired everything from podcasts to TV movies, a mini-series, and even an opera.” (Upcoming is a big-screen thriller starring Chloe Sevigny as Lizzie and Kristen Stewart as her maid).

And in this imaginative retelling of Lizzie’s life, before and after the murders, says Andrew Horn, Penguin’s executive director. “The playwright offers a fascinating and unvarnished look at what it meant to be a woman and bound by convention in the late 19th century, and, in many ways, what it means today.”

The limited engagement of “Fall River” runs through Sunday, November 5 at Penguin Rep Theatre in Stony Point. Official opening is Sunday, October 15 at 2 p.m.

Sofia Jean Gomez and Oliver Wadsworth star. he production has scenic design by Brian Prather, costume design by Lux Haac, lighting design by Reza Behjat, sound design by William Neal, with casting by Stephanie Klapper.

Performance days and times are: Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m.Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., with matinees on Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

There is also a special weekday matinee on Friday, October 13 at 2 p.m.

Penguin’s intimate, 108-seat theatre, which is located at 7 Crickettown Road, is converted from an 1880’s hay barn, and offers air-conditioning and heating, wheelchair accessible entrance, rest rooms and seating, and plenty of free parking.

Tickets to Fall River are priced at $44 (including facility fee and service charge). Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more and young people (30 and under).

Press Release from Peguin Rep Theatre

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