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Review Roundup: REMEMBER THIS: THE LESSON JAN KARSKI at Theatre for a New Audience

Review Roundup: REMEMBER THIS: THE LESSON JAN KARSKI at Theatre for a New Audience

Read all of the critics' reviews for Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski here!

Theatre for a New Audience is presenting Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski, by Clark Young and Derek Goldman, directed by Goldman, and starring David Strathairn (Nightmare Alley; Nomadland; Good Night, and Good Luck), now October 9, 2022.

Strathairn makes his TFANA debut portraying the Polish resistance fighter and World War II hero and Holocaust witness Jan Karski, who risked his life to carry his report of the Warsaw ghetto from war-torn Poland to the Allied Nations and the Oval Office, only to be disbelieved. Alone onstage with little more than a table and two chairs, Strathairn captures the remarkable life of this self-described "insignificant little man" and his story of moral courage and individual responsibility.

Surrounding a messenger whose harrowing accounts are conveniently met with denial, Remember This has chilling resonances in our contemporary world as so many urgent messages-about the pandemic, climate change, the rise of authoritarianism in American and global politics, human rights violations-have gone ignored. The play juxtaposes a fully embodied portrait of an individual, and an individual's responsibility, against an exploration of how dehumanization can lead people to justify the unthinkable.

See what the critics are saying...

Alexis Soloski, The New York Times: Whatever its form, "Remember This" serves as a remarkable showcase for Strathairn, who moves fluidly among characters and time periods. He leaps onto a table at one point and off it at others. Throughout, he manages to communicate both Karski's extraordinary moral strength and his passionate reactions to what he sees. Because Karski has feelings. He is, as Strathairn depicts him, much more than a camera or a stylus - he is a man profoundly changed by what he witnesses.

Jackson McHenry, Vulture: Strathairn has been with the play since 2015, and because he is so intent in the convictions of his performance, his own psychology as an actor rises to the surface. His decision to come back to Karski's remembrances again and again - to wield his talents for the sake of that history - has its own persuasive force. That's where the imperative comes in again. He is dedicating himself to this. It would behoove you, at least, to lean in and pay attention.

Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater: The narrative is bookended by short lectures that attempt to hook the story to the present day, and seem designed to prompt classroom discussion: "Millions are being displaced"; what is our responsibility as individuals to do something about it? And "Great crimes start with little things...You don't like your neighbors. You don't like them because they are different. Avoid this. Avoid disliking people. Don't make distinctions. We have to take care of each other." But the only clear lesson in this play about a man who tried to stop the Holocaust is that we need plays like this, in order to remember.

Elysa Gardner, New York Sun: The final moments of "Remember This" find Mr. Strathairn transitioning back into the role of narrator, once again pondering humanity's capacity for crimes against itself. The play reminds us that, unfortunately, such reflection remains necessary, and it does so with a directness, urgency, and grace worthy of Karski's legacy.

Photo credit: Hollis King

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