Washington Theater Review
By Paul McLane
The racket of trains. People are seen on a flat-roofed structure that proves to be the top of an Auschwitz killing chamber. Kurt Gerstein of the SS stands among the group and watches. A noncom officer wearing a gas mask crosses the roof and empties a can of Zyklon B grains down through an opened vent. We now hear the sound of many voices screaming from beneath the actors’ feet. The NCO removes his mask. “Choke on that, my friends.”
Theater J has staged at least nine Holocaust-related dramas in Ari Roth’s 10 seasons as Artistic Director. This spring, when it produces the world premiere of Thomas Keneally’s Either, Or, it takes audiences inside. “We’ve never stepped foot in the camp before,” Roth says. “In a way, we’ve been dealing with the legacy of the history; we’ve never started in the Third Reich and stayed there.” However, while those brief scenes are likely to be brutishly memorable, the subject of Either, Or is the series of choices confronted by a humane, moral Christian, Kurt Gerstein.
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