Daryl Roth, Karyl Lynn Burns
Written by and Starring:
Directed by Jenny Sullivan
(Theatre Row Website)
410 West 42nd Street
Scenic Design: Beowulf Boritt
Costume Design: Alex Jaeger
Lighting Design: Joel E. Silver
Sound Design: Shane Rettig
Production Stage Manager: Katherine Barrett
Production Supervisor: Production Core
Press: Keith Sherman & Associates
Advertising: DR Advertising
Marketing: Leanne Schanzer Promotions, Inc.
General Management: DR Theatrical Management
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 29, 2014
Tonight was the second time this season an actor in a one-character play was suffering from the sniffles. But, Tom Dugan, the play’s writer and actor, as Simon Wiesenthal, managed to keep the dialogue intense, sprinkled with wit, in the style of Jewish humor, in a discussion of Nazi war criminals. The time and setting at the small-staged Acorn Theatre is 2003, The Jewish Documentation Center, Vienna Austria. The Irish, Mr. Dugan speaks with an authentic accent, noting, in program notes, that his father, in World War II, was in a unit that liberated the German, Langenstein concentration camp. He also notes that Simon Wiesenthal helped in the search and conviction of 1,100 Nazi war criminals. Beowulf Boritt’s office set includes expansively high, crammed, bookshelves, a desk, chair, and artificial sunflower. Mr. Wiesenthal, in this play, is speaking to students and scholars of the 1941-45 Holocaust, responsible for the murder of six million Jews, as well as millions who were Christian, Gypsy, Jehovah’s Witness, disabled, and homosexual. In the 1980’s, I spent the better part of a day at Dachau, Germany, touring the remnants of the horrors of one of the horrific death camps.
Mr. Dugan, as the Austrian-born Wiesenthal, moves from stage right to stage left, from chair to desk to phone, and again, telling tales of his own imprisonment, the death of relatives, the travails and fears of his wife, Cyla, his post-war marriage and family, his studies, and his scholarly research on Holocaust victims, saviors, enablers, executors, and their assistants. He hunts down, feverishly, relentlessly, a soldier who captured Anne Frank in her hiding space and Franz Stangl, the head of the Sobibor and Treblinka death camps. Mr. Dugan’s Wiesenthal also attends the trial of Adolf Eichmann, who was physically diminutive and hunched, according to the play’s narrative, the opposite of Wiesenthal’s obsessive expectation.
Mr. Dugan relates numerous anecdotes, sometimes with a sneer, sometimes with a smirk. However, to magnify this production, it would have helped to show black-white slides for those students in the audience born decades after the end of the World War II era, even just to magnify for the Holocaust-educated audience the visual impact. As an original member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and having visited twice, the visuals always grip the mind, even if just to reinforce the sheer magnitude of this historical atrocity. I also wish Director, Jenny Sullivan, had asked Mr. Dugan to use more theatricality and drama in his delivery, as the play was delivered much like a lecture monologue or public television interview. In a sensitive touch, every member of the audience received an envelope of sunflower seeds, “seeds of remembrance”. Kudos to Simon Wiesenthal, for all his tireless work and dedicated efforts.
Tom Dugan as Simon Wiesenthal
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg