At first, John, a thief and joker, seems to be around for light relief in The Whipping Man, Matthew Lopez's audacious play about a Confederate soldier returning home from the war with a gangrened leg and celebrating Passover with two of his family's freed slaves, who have been raised in Judaism by his father. But in the second act, John delivers a long, impassioned speech that electrifies the audience — and also clarifies the meaning of the play's title. As John, Laurence Curry spoke these words with strength and deep feeling — but impressive as this climactic sequence was, it wasn't the most impressive aspect of his work. Even while joking, teasing, ducking and weaving, he communicated John's deeply ambivalent response to the dance of blame and reconciliation playing out in front of him. It was in his silences, the way he listened and moved, the angle of his head, the unexpressed rage that sometimes blazed into his eyes.