‘Mein Kampf’ at Scena Theatre by Grace Kim

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Having had a long tough week, a play billed as a dark comedy sounded like just the thing to end my Friday night with. And Mein Kampf, written by the illustrious George Tabori and directed by Robert McNamara, did not disappoint. This was a brilliant homage to the playwright’s vision.

Stas Wronka (Herzl), Cameron McNary (Younger Hitler) and Stephen Lorne Williams (Lobkowitz) in 'Mein Kampf.' Photo by Mason Summers.

From the moment you step into the theatre, you’re transported to 1909 Vienna, in a hostel for homeless men. Well designed by Set Designer Michael C. Stepowany, there are rickety beds with single wool covers, fabric and ripped old clothes hanging across some of the walls that are used to brilliantly project scenes. In particular, the final scenes after we see the madness of Adolf Hitler rising, the set dims and the actors are still as the film scenes of Hitler giving speeches and from  World War II are projected onto the those hanging fabrics. It was a stunning and effective way to be reminded of Hitler’s atrocities and the dark days of his regime.

Cameron McNary (Adolf Hitler). Photo by Mason Summers.

From the opening scene, we’re treated to the performances of Herzl (Stas Wronka) and Lobkowitz (Stephen Lorne Williams). Stas’ delivery of his multiple monologues throughout the play are well executed, with lines delivered at a good clip and a smooth voice that echoed nicely in my ear but some of the stories were a bit long-winded at times. At 2 ½ hours long with a one short intermission, I found myself asking if things could’ve been tightened up a tad. But don’t let that stop you from seeing this brilliant play because you’ll be treated to excellent performances and witness the staging of a really good play. Other notables in this play was Cameron McNary, who wonderfully performed young, maniacal of a hot-mess Hitler, and a delicious portrayal of Frau Death by Ellie Nicoll, which I quite enjoyed.

Mein Kampf is playing through August 19, 2012 at H Street Playhouse – 1365 H Street, NE, in Washington, DC. For tickets, purchase them online.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Grace, Good review and am so glad I attended last night. Re comments left by others: since The Fringe, there’s been time to finetune this very difficult play which, sadly, may not attract audiences due to the subj matter or even title. Take a leap though — the relationships are fascinating and ALL actors quite talented and have this play down well. Even the tech is spot-on — many sound effects, haunting music, excellent lighting, super effective set. The absurdity is at a high level and you’ll cringe — knowing the ultimate true ending. Artistic Director Robert McNamara spent years trying to produce this once very subversive play and met the playwright, George Tabori, in 1989 — now deceased. Do spend one evening to take it in. Although Scena needs support, I think discounts are available at TicketPlace — the show is Thurs-Sun thru 8/19. A discussion will be held THIS Sunday, 8/12, with illustrious members of the Jewish community. See Scena’s website.

  2. I saw this last night and it was brilliant! Go see it (I think there are two shows left) if you like intelligent non-comfort zone plays. It was brilliantly done, from the direction to acting to sets. Excellent and ***** from me.

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