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The Good and The True

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Isobel Pravda as her grandmother Hana Pravda

in a scene from The Good and the True

(Photo credit: courtesy of Svandovo Divadlo)


“I was still optimistic,” says a character in the Holocaust memory play, The Good And The True. “I was telling myself – some people are fighting, and we are locked up, and when the war is over, they will let us go. This kind of optimism is mad, when you are young,” says the other character. Both have just recounted a grim anecdote about life in a concentration camp.


Tomas Hrbek, Lucie Kolouchova and Daniel Hrbek have taken the testimonies of two Jewish Czechoslovakian survivors and fashioned them into a very compelling and concise, two-character play that runs 70 minutes. It was adapted into English by Brian Daniels. The events and details presented here would be familiar to most people with a basic knowledge of history. However, the subject remains so fascinating that a unique take on it with a different perspective transcends familiarity.


Originally conceived and produced in Prague by the Svandovo Theatre, this production then toured Europe. This is its American premiere.


Hana Pravda was a young actress and Milos Dobry was a student athlete when the Germans occupied their native Czechoslovakia during World War II. Both ended up in the transport camp Terezin and then were both shipped to Auschwitz. They did not know each other and the structure of the play is their separate, alternating reminiscences that are spoken directly to the unacknowledged audience. This device adds variety and drama, as often there’s a cliffhanger, followed by the suspense of having to wait to find out what happened next.


Strands of barbed wire run across the stage and remain so throughout the performance. The stage is divided by a train track. The walls are bare brick. The lighting often shifts to varying shades of darkness. Luggage is strewn around. Smoke flows briefly at one point. Scenes are punctuated by the sound of Czechoslovakian singing. The actors wear basic black clothes. Director, scenic and costume designer Daniel Hrbek masterfully creates powerful images. Horrors are conveyed by imaginatively utilizing very simple elements. Mr. Hrbek also succeeds in staging and pacing the action arrestingly along with the actors.



Saul Reichlin in a scene from The Good and the True

(Photo credit: courtesy of Svandovo Divadlo)


As Milos, British Saul Reichlin is dazzling. That he is a jovial mature man telling the gripping story of a young man adds great depth and poignancy. His large talent is evidenced by his fluid physicality and tremendous vocal skills with which he recreates numerous other characters. He’s won several audio book awards for his narration of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire. His performance is a sterling example of stage acting of the highest caliber.


An added dimension of interest is that Hana Pravda is played by her granddaughter Isobel Pravda. She is a British actress who originated the role in its United Kingdom and Belgian productions. In 2007, she read from her grandmother’s wartime diary during a London Holocaust Memorial Day event and that inspired the creation of this play. Dark haired and sleek, the captivating Ms. Pravda seamlessly transitions from joyful girlishness to sorrowfulness. She majestically depicts the character’s harrowing travails and her reactions to them.


With its expressive staging, accomplished performances and keen writing, The Good and The True is a moving and excellent addition to dramatic literature dealing with the Holocaust as well as exceptional theater.


The Good and The True (through September 14th, 2014)

DR2 Theatre, 103 East 15th Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit

Running time: 70 minutes without intermission

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