Director Rick Hamilton effectively steers the sad tale away from an endless maudlin saga. After all, the “spoiler” is in the program. Helena Weinrauch is alive and well and in her late 90’s, living in New York City. She attended the opening night of this production. We are carried by Helena’s travails – some are ultimately uplifting, like her about-face on her relationship with Wladek, a Jewish guard. She takes him to task for his participation in the black market, but he steps in to save her from death more than once. Earlier, she leaves the safe haven of living with a German couple who think Helena is married to a German officer on the front so not to put them in harm’s way when she knows she will ultimately be found out to be a Jew masquerading as a young German bride. Hamilton is conscious of needing every scene to be driven by intense depictions of rapid change in what was once a beautiful place to live. [more]
David Zayas Jr.
The direction by Ella Jane New delivers this emotionally complex story with skill and sensitivity. There are only a few instances when the action doesn't entirely ring true, such as the opening scene when the brothers first enter the house. Gostkowski's presentation is somewhat distracted as if he is looking for the character's voice. Rysdahl is more in tune with his character at this early stage but is also somewhat flat in affect. They may be trying to bring out the awkwardness of two brothers trying to find their emotional footing with each other after a number of years apart. They find their footing as Act I progresses and deliver fine performances. [more]
The story itself has potential, yet despite the actors’ heroic attempts to bring truth to it, the script has its characters written to say and do so many unrealistic things that the core authenticity of what’s unfolding can’t be upheld. Physical and emotional boundaries get crossed in questionable ways, and unreasonable demands are made to unbelievable responses. Characters drop vague references and make mysterious insinuations, demonstrating resentment and distrust in each other without explanation. Understanding who is what to whom just takes too long to be revealed, and the audience must buffer so many mysterious references and unexplained pieces of information for so long that by the time the play concludes with a battery of accusations and revelations, the audience isn’t sure what’s happening and thrown up its hands in disbelief. [more]
Director Shira-Lee Shalit provides breakneck pacing, swift scene transitions and compelling stage compositions that include the presence of the violinist. The visual and the verbal are in enthralling unison as Ms. Shalit achieves momentum, raucousness and sensitivity with her vigorous staging. A fully clothed sex scene is powerfully erotic as it visualizes the dynamics of the charatcers. Shalit masterfully guides the cast’s volcanic performances. [more]