Incident at Vichy: A Theatrical Review
A truly powerful story about the horror of ethnic cleansing, Incident at Vichy by Arthur Miller is a poignant production that forces its audience to think about the prejudices that are still ever so present in this world today. All of us have difficulties of some sort with cultures that are not our own. Let’s face it, we are all different, and everyone has their own niche in this world and understanding of what is acceptable and what is not. For those of us who have not personally experience the horrors of ethnic cleansing – Genocide or ethnic cleansing is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group- this reality of life seems so far removed from our personal understanding that it seems incomprehensible. But, the sad fact is that this act still contuse to this day.
We often consider the horrors of the holocaust against the Jewish people when we think of ethnic cleansing, but the fact is that there have been thousands of horrific events just like this that have occurred throughout history. Determining what historical events constitute genocide and which are merely criminal or inhuman behavior is not a clear-cut matter. In nearly every case where accusations of genocide have circulated, partisans of various sides have fiercely disputed the interpretation and details of the event, often to the point of promoting wildly different versions of the facts. In the last one hundred years there have been numerous acts of genocide, including the Americas against the indigenous peoples, In Peru The indigenous rebellions of Túpac Amaru II and Túpac Katari against the Spanish, In Haiti against the French population, in Mexico against the European residents, in Australia the British colonists against the aborigines, in France with the French Revolution where Catholics rose up against the anti-clerical Republican government, the German holocaust against the Jews, and many, many more. I have only begun to touch on the horrors of history here, look it up for you my friends, our world history is filled with type of horror, and it still goes on today. To this day we are still looking at multiple horrors, the most prominent and likely least recognized of which is the ever present hatred of Islamic Radicals against pretty much every other person on the planet who are not Islamic Radicals. This will never end, at least not until the earth itself ends.
The Incident at Vichy is a story of a group of people who were collected randomly on the streets of Vichy France and taken to a police magistrates holding cell to meet with a “professor” one at a time to determine whether they were Jewish or not and whether they had appropriate papers or not. This understanding was figured by not only seeing their papers, but also their genitals. Those who were determined to be Jewish were sent to the furnaces, those who were not deemed Jewish were let go. Today the same types of unthinkable horrors are still happening in parts of the world. This is horrific and we would all agree to this, but still these horrors continue in parts of the world where some feel they are somehow better than others. It is time for the world to wake up and see the reality of life, not just hold their blindfolds fast to their face and choose to ignore the truth.
In this production, which was exceptionally performed with spectacular direction by Barbara Schofield, and a fabulous set by Don Bergmann, offers some wonderfully powerful moments and thought provoking details. The three highlight performers of this production for this reviewer were Richard Michael Knolla as Leduc, David Kieran as Von Berg and Zayd Jaber as the Waiter. Each of these men seemed to connect to the power and reality of the story line, and were so very dedicated to the role, in which they played, that it was easy to respect their work, and loose one’s self in the realness of their performances. This is something that is not taught, it is something that is personally felt, understood, owned, and personally respected. When this is the point of view of the performer, the audience can understand and own their own part of the production as well. Simply put, this is one of the best productions the Sierra Madre Playhouse has given in a very long time. They have done some great work in the past, but this production literally knocks the ball out of the park. Worthy of notice and acknowledgement from the Ovation Committee, this production is a must see for those who truly want to understand the powerful reality of life today, yesterday, and tomorrow.
Incident at Vichy plays through September 8th with Friday and Saturday performances at 8PM and Sunday matinees at 2:30 PM (Dark on July 22, August 10, 11, &12). It is playing at the Sierra Madre Playhouse which is located at 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd in Sierra Madre, CA 91030, and there is ample free parking nearby. General admission is $25 per person with seniors and students only paying $22 each and children 12 and under only $15. This is a production that is more than acceptable to all audiences, though children 10 and under will definitely need some explanation of the realities of what the subject matter is all about. To make your reservations, call 626-355-4318 or log on to the internet at www.sierramadreplayhouse.org. Enjoy!
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