Memory and The Holocaust Resonate in Women’s Theatre Project Production

Memory and The Holocaust Resonate in Women’s Theatre Project Production

Oser and Gardner Give Outstanding Performances in The Interview

By Ron Levitt

Florida Media News

There has been plenty of material written about the Holocaust and its effect on the victims, but rarely does a play consider what a survivor’s child – the next generation – feels or how it affects the relationship of the different succeeding family members.

It’s a somber subject but author Faye Sholiton, a Cleveland, Ohio, writer, tackles it with clarity and feeling  in The Interview, now having its Southeastern premiere at the Women’s Theatre Project in its Sixth Star Studio theatre near downtown Fort Lauderdale.

The issue plays out as Ann (the always inspiring Patti Gardner)  is working on a project to record the video testimony of the horrors of Nazism and meets her subject Bracha Weissman (a deeply moving performance by Harriet Oser).   What the interviewer meets, however, is more than she expects.  The character Bracha –who has endured so many losses and tragedy in the camps of Hitler’s Germany — has  problems in expressing motherly love towards her daughter (Irene Adjan), and the interviewer – a child of Holocaust survivors herself) has her own struggle accepting a relationship with parents who refused to discuss the horrors of World War II.

“ We awakened a lot of memories,” the interviewer tells her subject.

“They were never asleep,” the survivor replies.

The reality of this story is that both of these characters have a  lot of baggage in recalling the past – one who wants to forever close the door on this historic horror but doesn’t quite know how, and the other, whose memory turns into self-blame, silence and an inability to connect with family.

The Interview is a play which depends heavily on the interaction of the two main characters but Director Genie Croft once again makes them interesting enough that the Q and A session between them turns into a time when the audience wants to know what will happen next during this taping in a Cleveland suburb.

Irene Adjan, a South Florida favorite,  is Oser’s daughter whom we meet long distance (she lives in California)  in the mind of her mother. Her character is not particularly likable inasmuch she is estranged from her angry mother, even though she gives some hope for  a reconciliation. “Who wants to applaud a character who cannot get close to her mother?”  That’s an actual comment from the audience! Talk about the guilt factor!

But as good as Adjan and Morgan Wade (who plays a video taper) are, this show is all Oser and Gardner.  Oser’s eyes project the horror of Auschwitz and Gardner’s explosion of anger toward family and the  All-Being are  the final bridges in the understanding  that only by facing the past  can anyone move beyond it.

This subject could be heavy-handed but there are moments of humor to reduce the intensity.  My gut reaction is that the play – perhaps like this review – runs too long, but watching these actors tackle this poignant .subject is worth the two-hours they are on stage . It’s a valuable visit to Sixth Star Studios.