White Lightning In My Heart is a black comedy about guilt,
redemption, sex and electricity. Scott Louis Beausoleil is a delusional homeless
man who has been hauled into a corrupt and hostile Texas County Courthouse to
defend himself for a crime he cannot comprehend. He feels a sense of foreboding,
a sense that he has committed a crime that only God can know or understand. But
he knows he has got to find out what he has done and seek forgiveness. If Franz
Kfaka had written a movie for the Coen Brothers it might be this play.
The action takes place in a Texas county courthouse in Scott Louis’ fertile
mind. Scott is an alcoholic vagrant who’s hold on reality is tenuous, hallucinogenic
and somewhat prone to error. As he begins his legal defense for his heinous crime
(if only he could remember what it was!), he flashes back to his last visit to
his estranged wife Johnnie Sue and his ten year old daughter Rosie.
As his defense progresses he calls to the witness stand, Jesus Christ, John Fitzgerald
Kennedy and Anne Bancroft, all of whom have intimate knowledge of the story of
his sad and difficult life. He also calls his wife Johnnie Sue to the stand to
corroborate the facts of his life, that he has been electrocuted and struck by
lightning only to be brought back to life with unusual sexual powers, that his
wife has had affairs with Bobby and Jack Kennedy, that he has seen Jesus at the
bottom of the deep end of the town swimming pool.
But Johnnie Sue has a different agenda. She wants Scott to clean himself up and
come home. The only lightning that strikes him is the White Lightning he buys
for $1.99 at the package store. She contradicts Scott on all the facts. The delusions
of his life spill out. A huge fight ensues, which ends with some literally electrifying
sex in the courtroom.
Threaded through the story is Scott’s constantly evolving account of his
last visit with Johnnie Sue and their daughter Rosie. In his initial account they
are glad to see him. As the play progresses his mind becomes clearer and his account
of his visit is fleshed out with the details of this once-happy family. Sparks
literally fly when Scott and Johnnie Sue are sexually aroused. His daughter is
the true inspiration of his life and his songwriting career. We see how he was
destroyed by his drinking and his descent into delusion.
Scott Louis finally comes face to face with the facts of his heinous crime and
is so overwhelmed he asks for the electric chair, which he gets, although in his
own mind he has been strapped to a huge gruesome lightning rod so he can be struck
by lightning. Johnnie Sue loses her mind in a manner reminiscent of Ophelia in
her mad scene (probably because she once played Ophelia in the Coahoma County
High School production of Hamlet Prince of Denmark for which she won the best
actress award). Johnnie Sue jumps into Scott’s arms as the lightning strikes
and they die together seeking redemption for their acts and a chance to start
over in heaven, where they hope to go, where they hope sex is allowed and where
they hope to find their beautiful daughter Rosie.