If you’d like to hear a lovely a cappella three part harmonic version of the famous haunting and lyrical Welsh folksong – All Through the Night sung by three Gentile German women you will have to make a choice – just as these women had to make some very difficult choices as Hitler attempted to create a Master Race and take over the mind and spirit of every human being that he came into contact with.
Your choice will be easier. Whether to leave after the first act of this very muddled and unenlightening new surrealistic war drama by Shirley Lauro or stay for the second – where you will hear the song of safety and protection which is the highlight of this otherwise dreary drama.
The intentions of playwright Shirley Lauro are admirable. The play isn’t. It simply is not ready. And I don’t know if it will ever be. It has its moments but they are fleeting. Perhaps it is in part the fault of director Melanie Moyer Williams who doesn’t fulfill her duties of clarification and coaxing powerful and moving performances from her actors very well.
It’s confusing going back and forth between time frames and having a narrator (Ludmilla, Lesley McBurney) – who speaks to the audience like a Rosie O’Donnell stand up comic – with a terribly thick German accent start by telling us a “Once Upon a Time” story with a “Happily Ever After” motif, and then weaving herself in and out of the stories and lives of the four Gentile women who have to choose whether or not to fall under the power of the Third Reich. The threat, the rise to power, the war and the aftermath is a lot of territory to cover. Too much so.
There is Gretchen (an excellent Theo Allyn) poor and ambitious who in order to rise above her meager surroundings unwillingly joins forces with the Fuhrer. She gives probably the most nuanced performance of the evening. Angelika (Hana Kalinski) is a nurse and does her best to fight against the Regime as does Friederike (Michelle Lookadoo) whose background in musical comedy unfortunately doesn’t help her characterization. And those accents, or should I say, lack of accents. They are an inconsistent nuisance to listen to. As is the strange choice of music for the production.
Andrea Sooch is required to play a quartet of Fraus – which are really one in the same person – a Head Mistress, Director of a Clinic, Administrator of Frauenwerk and a Concentration Camp guard. She is quite believable.
Based on interviews and oral histories and inspired by actual events this episodic “All Through The Night” is produced by The Red Fern Theatre Company and will be running through October 25th at The Marjorie S. Deane Little Theatre – 5 West 63rd Street at Central Park West – which is a very nice little theatre. Tickets $25.00