Incident at Vichy: A Coarse Line
Incident at Vichy, Arthur Miller's 1964 play about complicity and heroism in the face of horrors, has not been seen in New York in 25 years. The Actors Company Theatre (TACT) takes the play and delivers one of their usual wonderful productions of forgotten or overlooked plays.
The play is deceptively simple: It's Vichy, France, in 1942, an unoccupied zone where 10 men have been dragged off the street this morning and forced to wait to have their papers checked. There's a gypsy (Lief Huckman), an artist (Mark Alhadeff), a young boy (Russell Kahn), a businessman (James Prendergast), a plumber (Ron McClary), an actor (Gregory Salata) a waiter (Richard Ferrone), an aristocrat (Todd Gearhart), an old Jew (John Freimann), and a psychiatrist (Christopher Burns). The proceedings are presided over by a Nazi major (Jack Koenig), who is uncomfortable with what's happening, and a Professor of Ethnology (Jeffrey C. Hawkins), who is not. Rumors fly amongst the detainees about what is actually happening; some are not Jews and expect to be let go after a routine check, others wonder whether the forged papers some of them have are good enough to escape detection as Jews, while still others suggest a daring escape... I don't want to say any more for fear of spoiling the experience of the show, but Miller's script is suspenseful and taut, layering on more and more foreboding with expert timing. The characters each have perfectly delineated personalities, and it's fascinating to watch the reactions of different people under pressure.
The cast is uniformly great, with some standouts in Alhadeff, Burns, Gearhart, Koenig, and Salata.
The direction by Scott Alan Evans is wonderfully simple (though there is sometimes confusion as to who is "next"). Scott Bradley's scenic design is exquisitely detailed and evocative. Mary Louise Geiger's lighting design has some very nice moments at the beginning. David Toser's costume design is an impressive job. Sound design by Jill BC Du Boff and Composer Joseph Trapanese work together for some excellent effects.
Incident at Vichy is a powerful and moving work about the Holocaust, but more importantly about the human spirit. Bravo to TACT for bringing it back to New York.
Incident at Vichy
The Actors Company Theatre (TACT)
The Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street)
Limited run through Saturday, April 11th, 2009
www.tactnyc.org for time and ticket information
Photo Credit: Steve Kunken
- Pictured L to R: (On bench): Christopher Burns, Russell Kahn, Gregory Salata, Mark Alhadeff, Ron McClary, Richard Ferrone. (In foreground): Dan Stowell (in cap), James Prendergrast (seated in rear) Jeffrey C. Hawkins (briefcase), Jamie Bennett, Jack Koenig
- Pictured L to R: Todd Gearhart, John Friemann, Christopher Burns
From This Author Duncan Pflaster