Thursday, March 14, 2002

The Interview (Halle Theatre/JCC)

Powerful script bring audience to tears at Halle/JCC

Every once in while a script is so powerful, so well written, that even when give a mediocre production, it brings the desired effect from an audience. This is the case with THE 'INTERVIEW' at the Halle Theatre.

Local write Fay Sholiton has crafted a play that delves the emotional depths. On the surface it might be viewed as another Holocaust play, but it is more, much, much more. It examines survivor guilt, mother/daughter issues, rejection, generativity (what happens to one generation as they receive the traditions from the previous generation), what happens when one person wants to share and another doesn’t want to receive the message and vice versa, and what it feels like to walk in someone else’s shoes. That’s a lot of stuff to unload in an hour-and-a-half. But Sholiton manages to weave it well!

Unfortunately, the Halle production is not of the same quality as the material. Tom Fulton’s direction just doesn’t delve deeply enough. In general his characters are saying lines, not experiencing emotions. Yiddish (the Jewish language) contains many very descriptive words. One of these is “taum” which is defined as “taste.” It really means the shadings of taste that make foods or events extra special. This production lacks “taum.”

Ann Meshenberg as the interviewer comes closest to delivering a stirring performance. Her meek, bird-like personality in the first act gives way in Act II to an overwhelmed woman who has suffered the emotional loss of not being allowed to share her mother’s experiences, to understand the depths of her torment.

Marji Dodrill, as Holocaust survivor Bracha Weissman, gives a serviceable performance, but fails to lay bare the underlying depth of the woman’s hurt. Dodrill uses anger instead of agony as her acting catalyst resulting in some audience alienation rather than understanding.

Kathryn Wolfe Sebo’s words lacked the depth and nuances needed to display her frustration and bitterness fully.

Michael Roache gives a nice reading of his part as the youthful photographer.

Capsule judgement: 'THE INTERVIEW' is worth seeing. It is a powerful script that left the audience with tear-soaked wads of Kleenex.