"Are you saying all these people are dead? It's inconceivab
Mary Whipple | New England | 08/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Set in a holding room Vichy, France, in 1942, this powerful play by Arthur Miller introduces nine men who have been picked up on suspicion that they are Jews or Jewish sympathizers. Waiting to be questioned are an actor, a waiter, a businessman, a psychoanalyst, a Marxist railroad worker, a gypsy, an ancient Hasid, a fourteen-year-old boy, and an Austrian prince. As they talk and begin to share bits of information, Miller examines the tendency of ordinary men to become immobilized when faced with "an atrocity...that is inconceivable," to refuse to believe that such behavior can possibly happen in a civilized world. At the same time, he also examines those others, the Nazis and their collaborators in France, who serve an ideology, not mankind, those who subordinate themselves so completely to an abstract concept that they believe "there are no persons anymore."
Directed by Stacy Keach, who also wrote the background music, the production features a talented cast, including Rene Auberjonois as the actor, Allen Garfield as the panicked and fatalistic artist, and Andrew Robinson as the German major who has second thoughts about his role. Harris Yulin shines in the very demanding and crucial role of the psychoanalyst Leduc, and his confrontation with Richard Jordan, as the Austrian prince who has failed to act when he had the chance, is heart-stopping. The external action takes place with only one set and virtually no props, focusing the audience's attention on the characters' intense psychological crises, through which Miller examines the tendency of men to believe that the world is essentially rational. Gradually, the truth about the waiting train and its destination emerges, and the sense of horror becomes palpable.
As the men, one by one, disappear from the set, the drama focuses on the psychoanalyst and the Austrian prince, one Jewish and one Christian, one of whom wants desperately to live, and the other of whom has already attempted suicide. Beautifully paced, with a very moving climax, the play is an unusually sophisticated treatment of the Nazi horrors. Miller does not see events purely in black and white, showing instead that everyone creates his own reality to keep from accepting the unthinkable. Written in 1964, while Miller was representing the New York Herald Tribune at the Frankfurt war crimes trials of officials from Auschwitz, this play is Miller's creative reaction to the atrocities he has heard first-hand--and one of his most powerful plays. Mary Whipple
Good Work from the Berkeley Theatre Archive
G. vonDuering | SF Bay Area, CA United States | 03/20/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The action of this play takes place in a single room (and a single act), and this version makes no attempt to change this, so don't watch it if you're looking for filmic frills. That said, the set is well-done and the performances are very good, good enough, in fact, that it's hard to point out any particular standouts. (Star Trek fans will note the appearances of Rene Auberjonois and a very young-looking Andrew Robinson, billed as Andy Robinson, as Leduc the actor and the (German) Major.)The BTA series was originally done for television, so the image quality is not great, but both picture and sound seem to be as good as "new."Like all the Kultur DVDs of the Broadway Theatre Archive I've seen, this version has no extras to speak of. Aside from the program itself, there is a short of previews of other titles and a scene selection option."