The Gills Creek Five by Greg M. Dodd
The Gills Creek Five by Greg M. Dodd is a classic stage play that centers around five vibrant, unique characters: Dane, Rett, Sam, Emile, and Martin. Set in South Carolina, specifically in a Sunday school classroom in a church, the play follows the metaphorical journeys of five men who have haphazardly (or by divine providence, you decide) come to study a book together every Wednesday night at 6:30 for eight weeks. The group comprises Dane, the group’s charismatic and enthusiastic leader; Emile, an overweight volunteer who lives with his mother; Sam a British veterinarian who seems a bit lost in life; Rett, a jovial former pastor with a predilection for speaking broken French and sprinkling French phrases throughout his lines, thanks to his six-year stint in Louisiana; and Martin, a wisecracking librarian’s assistant who stumbles upon the group, mistakenly thinking that it’s an AA meeting. In addition to being, on the surface, about a men’s small group, The Gills Creek Five also has a sort of meta-narrative that’s briefly explained in the foreword. The author, Greg M. Dodd, had previously written a novel that the characters in the play end up studying as a part of their weekly faith-centered men’s study group. The leader of the group, Dane, introduces the text by giving a little background on how he came to pick up A Seed for the Harvest. He explains that he met the author of the novel at a local coffee shop, The Lost Bean, and in the midst of their conversations about the author’s next project, a play, he learned that the author’s true intention in sharing his work and interviewing Dane about his experiences was to bring strangers that much closer to God through witnessing. This quick bit of explication serves as a little nod and a wink to the audience, who should know from the foreword that this was an actual encounter that helped shape the play they’re watching or reading. On every level, this play focuses on the meaningful connections and conversations that men have with one another and how that fellowship impacts the directions of their disparate, yet miraculously interwoven lives.
Whether or not faith plays a part in readers’ lives, this touching play will be sure to leave a lasting mark on hearts and minds of all ages. Beyond being about five men who gather together in a church setting to discuss a book, The Gills Creek Five serves as an enlightening testament to the resiliency and resolve of the human spirit. On top of being a brilliantly told story with an uplifting message, this play is flat-out enjoyable to read. The greatest thing that this play has going for it is the depth and reality of the dialogue. Immediately, the reader gets a developed sense of who each of the characters in the play is. Their voices jump off of the page, and without ever having to describe them explicitly, the author paints a vivid picture of each man. A large part of that vivid picture has to do with how real, raw, and riotously funny the dialogue is. At times, it seems as though the author might have actually jotted down his interviews with real people verbatim, even though it’s a work of fiction. It’s this commitment to the way that people actually speak that moves the narrative forward at a break-neck pace. Before the reader knows it, they’ve flown through the entire play. The Gills Creek Five sucks readers in and won’t let them go until it’s really engaged them in a powerful discussion about life’s meaning and the purpose of everyone’s individual journey along the way. And despite its depth, it still manages to be largely comedic. Regardless of religious persuasion, this play is worth a try for its universal truths and lighthearted, realistic dialogue.
To purchase a copy of the book, click here to find it on Amazon.