Skip to main content Skip to footer site map


Review: FALSE WITNESS: THE TRIAL OF HUMANITY'S CONSCIENCE At ReinART Productions In a hypothetical eternal court, Hitler is tried for his crimes against humanity. His defense? Martin Luther. The prosecutor? Anne Frank. So begins False Witness: The Trial of Humanity's Conscience by Robert Krakow, currently running at The Swan Theatre.

The morality play does not spend much time debating whether or not Hitler actually committed any of his heinous acts ("we admit to these actions, which we argue are not criminal", Luther says early in the play); rather, the play focuses on making a case based on the actions of other historical figures - contemporaries of Hitler such as Henry Ford and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as well as Richard Wagner and William Shakespeare.

In essence, the argument becomes that people like Ford and FDR supported Hitler, in various degrees, and Wagner and Shakespeare expressed the same anti Semitic sentiments that became so key to the Third Reich - thus, Luther argues that Hitler's actions were not that bad, since such important figures shared the same views, and may have even been a service for humanity. Indeed, the play puts the supporters (both intentional and otherwise) on trial, more than Hitler himself.

It's an interesting premise, and one that generally works quite well. The play is clearly well researched and includes little known, rather damning (and disappointing) information about some beloved figures. The main difficulty with the script lies, I think, in its brevity (the play runs about an hour), which may not allow for quite as much depth to the arguments; even so, it is an engaging piece that still provides the audience with a great deal to ponder about the systems and beliefs that allowed Hitler to rise to power in such a horrific way.

The cast, (well chosen and directed by Reed Meschefske) is made up of local actors who all suit their roles quite well. Mr. Meschefske has even found actors who in several cases bear more than just a passing resemblance to their characters, which is impressive and adds even more to the storytelling.

In the lead roles, Santa Fe High student Sage Merriam gives a performance that belies her youth - she has a wonderfully commanding, earnest presence that allows her to hold her own against the group of seasoned actors she questions. David McConnell is a delightfully smug Martin Luther, and William Potter is a terrifically menacing Hitler. Nadine Grantham Philips, last seen in the Santa Fe Playhouse's production of Fun Home as Medium Alison, trades the vulnerable energy from that role for a very powerful and grounded energy as the Chief Justice presiding over the trial.

The actors playing roles called as witnesses are wonderful, as well - Dan Burkarth's Richard Wagner, Stephen Jules Rubin's Shakespeare, Larry Glaister's FDR, Don Converse's Henry Ford, and Stefany Burrowes's Eleanor Roosevelt all give interesting and nuanced performances that emphasize the humanity of these figures, and makes it difficult to simply dismiss them as "bad" people.

False Witness asks some tough questions without a lot of easy answers, and is unlike a lot of theatre audiences in Santa Fe have probably seen before. It runs one weekend only, and is absolutely worth seeing.

False Witness: The Trial of Humanity's Conscience runs at The Swan (1213 Parkway Drive) Thursday, September 12 through Sunday, September 15th. Performances are nightly at 7, with a 2 PM matinee on Sunday.

Tickets are available online at and at the door.

Umbrella Childrens Theatre Presents THE BUTLER DIDNT DO IT! Photo
Umbrella Children's Theatre will present The Butler Didn't Do It! A Comic 'Who Done It' Mystery at Teatro Paraguas, adapted by Katie Thomas, directed by JoJo Sena-Tarnoff, with original music by Melange (Jeff and JoJo Tarnoff). Our student actors range in age from 7 to 12 years old.

Compania Chuscales Y Mina Fajardo Presents Flamenco Fiesta 2023: Sleeping Woman Mountain Photo
Compania Chuscales y Mina Fajardo is joining with Teatro Paraguas artistic director Argos MacCallum to present a flamenco concert interwoven with selected love poems from MacCallum's recently published book Sleeping Woman Mountain.

Flamenco Virtuoso Chuscales Returns to Teatro Paraguas Photo
One of the most accomplished and captivating flamenco guitarists in the world, Jose Valle Fajardo “Chuscales” grew up in a traditional gypsy family of musicians and dancers in Antequera, Spain.

Alex & Olmsted Return To Santa Fe Playhouse With HUBBA HUBBA A Show About Love For The Photo
Santa Fe Playhouse presents the return of puppeteers Alex & Olmsted with a show about love for the entire family, HUBBA HUBBA.

From This Author - Zoe Burke

Zoe (she/her) is an actress, director, intimacy choreographer, and theatre educator who lives in Santa Fe, NM with her husband and their three dogs. She is proud to use her writing to rai... (read more about this author)

Review: EVERYBODY at the Santa Fe PlayhouseReview: EVERYBODY at the Santa Fe Playhouse
June 26, 2022

What did our critic think of EVERYBODY at Santa Fe Playhouse?

BWW Feature: FALSETTOS Opens as Student Senior Project at Santa Fe Youth Collaborative TheatreBWW Feature: FALSETTOS Opens as Student Senior Project at Santa Fe Youth Collaborative Theatre
June 19, 2022

New Mexico School for the Arts is no ordinary educational institution, and recently graduated senior Theo Kutsko is no ordinary student. Kutsko's ambitious and well executed senior project -- which has one more performance on Sunday, June 19th -- is a production of Falsettos, produced via Santa Fe Youth Collaborative Theatre.

BWW Review: THE EFFECT at Santa Fe PlayhouseBWW Review: THE EFFECT at Santa Fe Playhouse
March 26, 2022

The Effect, written by British playwright Lucy Prebble (American audience members might know her best as a co-producer and writer on HBO's Succession) and playing now at the Santa Fe Playhouse, is a beautifully styled, engaging evening of theatre that asks the audience to grapple with issues of free will, medication, mental health, consent, and what it means to love someone (with or without the assistance of chemical agents).

BWW Review: HAMLET at New Mexico Shakespeare FestivalBWW Review: HAMLET at New Mexico Shakespeare Festival
September 16, 2021

[...] this production of Hamlet is sharp -- incredibly so. Remarkably well paced and brilliantly edited, with so much more action, energy, and even humor than I’d known the play could hold, it is immediately accessible and clearly was directed [...] and performed by people who really know what they’re doing.

BWW Review: THE ROMANS: JULIUS CAESAR and CORIOLANUS at the International Shakespeare CenterBWW Review: THE ROMANS: JULIUS CAESAR and CORIOLANUS at the International Shakespeare Center
August 29, 2021

“[…]that season, billed as 'The Romans' - consisting of timely productions of Julius Caesar and Coriolanus - opened last weekend at the quad at Santa Fe Preparatory School (1101 Camino de Cruz Blanca), proving itself to be well worth the wait.“