Theater Review by Howard Steven Frydman
Play: THE REVISIONIST
Theater: Playhouse On Park
Playwright: Jesse Eisenberg
Director: Sasha Bratt
Only 19 days and counting to see, in my minds eye a most important, emotionally charged and oh so relevant artistic production on the consequences of Nazi Germany’s exterminating of Jews, of lost family, the heart wrenching need to reconnect and choices one makes. “Playhouse on Park”, as part of their 9th season, presents the New England premiere production of “The Revisionist, by Jesse Eisenberg, Directed by Sasha Bratt, and starring Carl Howell, Sebastian Buczyk and the most beguiling Miss Cecelia Riddett,
Thank you “Playhouse on Park” for extending this excellent rallying call to all to “Never Forget” during this Holocaust Remembrance Week. As we remember the 6 million Jews and millions of others who perished during the Holocaust, I strongly urge you to see “The Revisionist” – a “not to be missed” emotionally charged theater event that reflects on a saved child’s life, what makes a family and ultimate decisions made.
My own father, Yankle Jack Max Frydman was a misplaced Polish child of the holocaust. In a similar tale as described in “The Revisionist”, Nazi troopers descended on his home town of Maltch, Poland one Saturday morning and herded all the town’s Jews onto empty cattle trains and to awaiting Concentration Camps and its Final Solution. He was the sole survivor of his family. No pictures to Remember them – only memories, of grandparents, parents, a brother who he fondly remembered in a fine Polish Cavalry soldier’s uniform astride his mount and the grist mill that the family owned and that still exists even today. Ghosts of memories. I once asked if he wanted to go back to Poland to revisit, his answer in his unfaded Polish accent – “Why”?
“The Revisionist” takes us to Szczecin, Poland and the small apartment of widowed 75 year old Maria who spends her days repeatedly answering phone calls from tele-marketers. A survivor herself of the holocaust, she recalls seeing her young brother shot in the head for the crime of inadvertently sneezing on a Nazi soldier, as they overtook and occupied her Polish town, forcing Jews from their homes and unto the streets. A lonely survivor by chance when Maria’s mother gives all their worldly possessions to their housekeeper in an effort to save Maria’s life.
Entering into Maria’s quiet and lonely existence comes her second-cousin, David, a young, pot smoking, writer-blocked science fiction novelist, who has come all the way from New York to Poland in need of a “change of scenery” in an effort to re-edit and finally complete his latest work. Lonely Maria is overjoyed with this first time visit by any of the relatives, in fact her home is a shrine to their family, photos of family members hang on the walls and even a bad book review of David’s is displayed with honor. Though Maria has made plans for his visit, taken the week off from her volunteer job to show David the sights and sounds of Poland, prepared him a special welcome chicken dinner ( David is a vegetarian) and seeking a strong desire to get reacquainted as a family, David has other ideas that don’t include his elderly cousin as he states- “Blood is not important”.
Miss Cecelia Riddett as the aged and tormented Maria is absolutely superb in her role, she tugs at our heartstrings one moment and brings us to laughter the next. In my mind’s eye, this production gently rests on her mighty shoulders and she steals this production hands down- bravo Miss Riddett. Carl Howell plays the obnoxious, lounging, unappreciative houseguest David to the hilt, often times reminding one of the plays actual author, Jesse Eisenberg. At one point of the play, I overhear an overzealous audience member loudly remark “I would have kicked his butt out in 30 minutes”- acting becomes real when it awakens true emotions. A “Howard Noticed You” Award goes out to Sebastian Buczyk who portrays Zenon, Maria’s driver and helper, I so enjoyed your rich Polish accent and must agree you had the most notable scene of the play – delicately shaving the legs of Maria at the plays midpoint- it brings a much needed humorous moment. And lastly a final thought- I wish the author had also brought forth in this work, a mention of the disturbing and rising incidents of anti-Semitism, currently taking place in Poland and throughout Europe even now, over 73 years ago since the Holocaust, as they say- “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.
Tickets for The Revisionist are $30-$40. Student, Senior, and Let’s Go Arts discounts are available. For tickets, or more information, please call the Playhouse on Park box office at 860-523-5900 x10 or visit www.playhouseonpark.org. Playhouse on Park is located at 244 Park Road, West Hartford, CT 06119.
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.