Review Roundup: Bess Wohl's CAMP SIEGFRIED Opens At Second Stage Theater

The production stars Johnny Berchtold and Lily McInerny.

By: Nov. 15, 2022
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The New York Premiere of CAMP SIEGFRIED, the new play from Tony Award-nominee Bess Wohl (2ST's Grand Horizons and Make Believe), directed by Tony Award-winner David Cromer (The Band's Visit, 2ST's Man from Nebraska) opens tonight at Second Stage's Tony Kiser Theater (305 West 43rd Street). The production stars Johnny Berchtold and Lily McInerny. Both actors are making their off-Broadway stage debuts.

Read the reviews below!

From Tony Award® nominee Bess Wohl (Grand Horizons) comes an exhilarating new play about how far we'll go to belong. During a golden summer at the real-life Camp Siegfried, a picturesque campground on Long Island, two teenagers find themselves on a collision course with youthful passion and unbridled extremism. Are they falling in love or falling for something more sinister? Set on the cusp of World War II, this boy-meets-girl-meets-cautionary tale about the seductive nature of fascism reveals a shocking part of America's past and reminds us how easily darkness can sneak up on us.

The full creative team for CAMP SIEGFRIED includes scenic design by Brett Banakis, costume design by Brenda Abbandandolo, lighting design by Tyler Micoleau, sound design by Christopher Darbassie and casting by Telsey + Company. Jane Ackermann and Charlie B. Foster are the understudies for the production.

Jesse Green, The New York Times: It's a lot for an 80-minute play about teenagers, and though "Camp Siegfried" is fascinating anyway, perhaps a longer treatment would have allowed the characters to unwind more naturally. As it is, the effort to keep the emotional and ideological stories in balance, like opposing parties that demand equal time, leaves both elements cramped and insufficiently expressive. Cromer's direction, with its usual quiet authority, sweeps us past those problems as much as possible. His staging, on a set by Brett J. Banakis that's part verdant hillside, part work camp, part podium, is fluid enough to cover many of the logical cracks. And he counters the typical visual monotony of two-character plays by maximizing the actors' movement; they even build the podium during the action. The costumes (by Brenda Abbandandolo), lighting (by Tyler Micoleau) and especially the delicate sounds of woodpeckers, crowds and crackling fires (by Christopher Darbassie) make the most of the story in the subtlest way possible.

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: Back in the late 1930s, there was a camp dedicated to the politics of Adolf Hitler and located on the outskirts of Yaphank, N.Y. You can learn all about the place by reading a recent New York Times article titled "How a Pro-Nazi Camp on Long Island Inspired a New Play." You will not learn much about that Nazi camp by seeing the lackluster new play that inspired the Times article. "Camp Siegfried," written by Bess Wohl, opened Tuesday at Second Stage's Tony Kiser Theater.

Melissa Rose Bernardo, Time Out New York: By zooming in so tightly on these two people, Wohl-whose other plays include the silence-filled Small Mouth Sounds, the generation-jumping sibling drama Make Believe and the bawdy comedy Grand Horizons-gives us a human glimpse into a horrific piece of history. And Berchtold and McInerny, making their New York stage debuts under the direction of David Cromer, are fantastic in their emotionally and physically demanding roles.

Elysa Gardner, New York Stage Review: Though Wohl has demonstrated a flair for combining mordant wit with forthright compassion in plays as diverse as Small Mouth Sounds and her Broadway bow, Grand Horizons, there is little humor or warmth palpable here. The bleakness is purposeful, of course, and is managed with predictable savvy by director David Cromer, a master of intimacy, and a pair of appealing, intuitive young actors.

Gillian Russo, New York Theatre Guide: Wohl is trying to craft a metaphor: Falling for fascism is its own kind of toxic relationship. "Anyone can fall into anything, really. Anyone can be seduced," the girl says at the end, a rather unsubtle announcement of the play's theme. Luckily, we, the supposed intended audience of non-Nazis, are aware of this. Hopefully we remain that way. It's an evergreen and urgent message all the same.

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