Freedom Is Calling (Out of Dodge)

The world premiere of a local playwright’s latest is among the best plays of the year. Last Drive to Dodge performs at Taproot Theatre through this Saturday. 


It’s unusual that any production, let alone a brand new play, hits all the right notes. Last Drive to Dodge is that rare show. Now entering the final weekend of its world premiere at Taproot Theatre, a co-production with The Hansberry Project, Last Drive might be prolific playwright Andrew Lee Creech’s best work yet. 

Set somewhere in the Reconstruction era, when hope burned brightly on the horizon, Last Drive deftly moves in two distinct wide-open worlds: the end of slavery and the opening of the West. In law and land, the wind whispered freedom and possibility

Getting there was another matter. As Last Drive adeptly illustrates, each rung of the social and economic ladder has a sharp incentive to keep the next one down in its place. Without anyone to stand on, “There’d be nobody to step on. No foundation.” So through manipulation and force, threats and ridicule, cajoling and empty promises, each of the characters in Dodge feels the boot heel of someone digging in from above. 

In the leading roles of Prophet and Ro, Yusef Seevers and Dedra D. Woods are superb. Their love, complicated by circumstance, feels real and durable. So do their wants and motivations, which aren’t always aligned. Between them is a willingness to be exasperated, to fight with and for each other, and, where possible, to trust. Versatile stage veteran Tim Gouran is in his element here as the gruff, complicated bad guy. Jonelle Jordan gets the difficult task of serving as a complication for everyone; and while her character won’t win much loyalty, you at least get her “why.” A simple set and subdued color-washed lighting highlight the openness and center the actors, unadorned. Director Valerie Curtis-Newton’s pacing and vision are the perfect pairing here. 

Last Drive is not performed as preachy, nor saccharine, nor fantasy. And, importantly, it’s not gutting, either. Seeing a microcosm of their journey, we leave Prophet and Ro very much as we met them: confident they can withstand the hard things, but hopeful that all the worst is behind them. 

Last Drive to Dodge runs through 10/21 at Taproot Theatre in Greenwood. Tickets ($28+) here. Accessibility notes: restrooms are gendered and multi-stall. First-level theatre and common areas are wheelchair accessible (balcony level is not).

Run time: 2 hours, with intermission.

Chase D. Anderson is Editor & Producer of