Walking To Buchenwald Review – A Play Of Promises

Walking To Buchenwald - a new play by Tom Jacobson
Tom Jacobson’s new play – Walking To Buchenwald

 

Tom Jacobson’s new comedy Walking To Buchenwald opened on September 15, 2017, at the Atwater Village Theatre.  Produced by the Open Fist Theatre Company, the play is directed by Roderick Menzies.

 

Walking To Buchenwald – Mandy Schneider as Schiller and Amielynn Abellera as Arjay/ Photo by Darrett Sanders

The first half of the play was witty with a lot of banter and quips as Schiller tries to convince her staid Midwestern parents to take a trip to Europe with her.  I laughed several times.

Walking To Buchenwald – Laura James as Mildred and Ben Martin as Roger – photo by Darrett Sanders

However, the second act had a darker tone with many somber themes.  The four travel through Europe encountering people that let them know America is no longer admired.   While I agree with many of the statements said by the characters, much of the second act was devoted not to comedy as much as to espouse the views of the playwright including fears of the future with our current president and his impulsive behavior as he alienates the European community.

 

Numerous themes are presented in the play including current politics, the “ugly American,” gay/lesbian relationships, marriage, grief, and fear of death, and parental-child conflict.  The historical tour while interesting had some inaccurate facts and seemed incidental – a streaming together of events that at times seemed unnecessary to the storyline.

Walking To Buchenwald – Laura James and Will Bradley – photo by Darrett Sanders

 

One scene of nudity, in particular, appeared as the tourists visited a museum of frozen bodies in Germany.  Was the nudity really needed?  It didn’t appear to move the story forward except for shock effect but then neither did some of their other scenes.

Walking To Buchenwald – Chris Cappiello as Schiller and Justin Huen as Arjay – photo by Darrett Sanders

I was disappointed.  I expected the story to revolve around an emotional journey to Buchenwald for the characters.  They never even actually visited but had only started walking toward the camp.  As it turned out, Buchenwald had very little to do with the play at all and the characters, themselves, were hardly affected by it.  (There was an allusion to the father having been from Germany but it was not developed.)

Walking To Buchenwald – Chris Cappiello and Ben Martin – photo by Darrett Sanders

The acting was fabulous especially that of Will Bradley who played numerous roles.   Mother Mildred was portrayed by Laura James and her husband Roger was Ben Martin.  We saw the female version with a lesbian couple-Schiller – Mandy Schneider  and her partner Arjay – Amielynn Abellera.  There is also an alternate gay version with Schiller – Christopher  Cappiello  and Arjay – Justin Huen which I am sure is also equally well done.

Laura James, Many Schneider, Amielynn Abellera, Ben Martin – photo by Darrett Sanders

The minimal staging done by Richard Hoover worked well but I left the theatre feeling ambivalent.  Again I totally understood what Mr. Jacobson was saying but I am not sure if the play worked for me as entertainment.  It felt as if there was more exposition than necessary.  Still there will many who will agree with him.

 

Tickets are $30 can be obtained from Open Fist or calling 323 882-6912. The play runs until October 21, 2017 and performs at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays with a 7 p.m. show on Sundays.

 

About Serita Stevens 37 Articles
An award winning writer of books, scripts, adaptations and teacher of writing I am also a forensic nurse and assist writers, producers, and attorneys with their medical, forensic, poison and investigative scenes in their stories or cases.

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