DC: Fringe: Lebensraum

by Israel Horovitz
directed by Cory Ryan Frank
Studio Theatre – Stage 4
1501 14th Street NW
Remaining Performances:
Friday, July 25th, 10:00pm
Saturday, July 26th, 2:00pm

Description: Using a cast of three to play 40 characters, this work is based on the explosive idea that a German Chancellor might, as an act of redemption, invite six million Jew to Germany. The logical progression of this artfully drawn script raises the terrifying possibility that history may repeat.

I thought this play sounded interesting, but it wasn’t at the top of my list. But luckily, time and money allowed me to attend a performance. There I discovered by reading some very small print on the front of the program that this play was written by Israel Horovitz, who just happens to be my favorite American playwright. No mention of this fact is made in the Fringe brochure, Shame, shame. Anyway, I was relieved that I didn’t miss it.

The young director and cast of three do an admirable job with this piece. Characterizations are clear. Chase Helton plays his many roles with a sense of sympathy, particularly Michael Linsky and Maximillian Zylberstein. Sarah Shook and David Olson are at their best as the young lovers Anna Giesling and Sammy Linsky. Director Cory Ryan Frank does well for the most part, though the pacing isn’t always quite right – some of the transitions are a little rushed and Horovitz’s strange brand of humor doesn’t always land quite right. But these are minor quibbles in a production that moves along with great charm.

Horovitz’s strength as a playwright is his ability to put forth tough question, and never give pat answers. His plays deal with people trying to reach other of their isolation, and misunderstandings erupting into sudden violence. Lebensraum is no different. What remains with you from this play are the moments where Horovitz is delving into the darkest corners, not of the German soul, not of the Jewish soul, but of the human soul.

So go see this. Because Horovitz isn’t nearly as well known as I think he should be, as made evident by the fact that I was the only person in the audience who understood why it was funny that one of the characters in the play mentions “The Beastie Boys” as one of his favorite bands.

4 stars


Popular Posts