The word gothic carries many connotations. It suggests a style of architecture characterized by elaborate stonework, pointed arches, flying buttresses and intricate recesses. A derivation of gothic, Goth, labels hostile and violent outsiders of the world, whether they are the Scandinavian barbarians who stormed the gates of the Roman Empire, or aggressively counter-cultural adolescents in trench coats and black nail polish. Finally, literary historians chart the “gothic novel” as starting with Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story in 1764. Since then, gifted writers such as Emily Brontë, Bram Stoker and Mary Webb have crafted brooding tales marked by dangerous and inhospitable locations, innocent heroines, cruel villains, and supernatural occurrences.
Gone to Earth conspires with the above definitions of gothic. In the tradition of architecture, it demands a heightened style of production—rife with sharp edges and soaring emotions. Like the “Goths,” it painfully depicts how hostility and violence so often accompany loneliness and marginalization. Finally, Gone to Earth earns its heritage in Webb’s gothic novel by exploring the darker corners of life, places where cruelty and malevolence thrive and where primal and supernatural forces exist on the surface.
But in representing behaviors illustrative of our fallen nature, tonight’s production by no means endorses these qualities—far from it. To its very core, Gone to Earth persuasively testifies for virtues central to a life of faith. Hazel Woodus’ compelling journey models the utter necessity of kindness over cruelty, joyfulness over despair, and forgiveness over judgment.