An escaped slave joins a minstrel show in Philadelphia, providing the framework for a beautiful fictional examination of a society fated to resolve its differences through conflict. Told from various viewpoints, Tom Piazza has created a portrait both painful and poignant of a world and its citizens caught in the throes of the ultimate moral dilemma.— Bill
The year is 1855. Blackface minstrelsy is the most popular form of entertainment in a nation about to be torn apart by the battle over slavery. Henry Sims, a fugitive slave and a brilliant musician, has escaped to Philadelphia. He is befriended by a leader of a popular minstrel troupe struggling to compete with similar ensembles. Henry's skill could help the struggling troupe. Black and white performers are not allowed to appear together onstage. Together, the two concoct a masquerade to protect Henry's identity. Even as their plan begins to reverse the troupe's decline, a brutal slave hunter named Tull Burton has been employed to track down the runaway and retrieve him, by any means necessary.