By Darlene Leal
“Fear and Misery in the Third Reich” is a anti-Nazi piece acted through a series of short stories. Every story varies in its resonating power over the audience, but the overarching feel is one of sympathy, despair, and a call for action.
Brecht’s “Fear and Misery in the Third Reich” had stronger stories within its collection, which varied in the emotion they evoked on the audience. Some were very emotionally focused and had the audience worrying on what would happen to the character.
In the very beginning, unless you know the work of Brecht, the audience is introduced to a character who is possibly put in harm’s way by a nazi. It was originally, and naively, expected for their narrative to continue only to be introduced to another character. It takes the audience completely out of the story and throws them right into another.
There were some stories that were of course better executed than others and that has to do with the writing of the story. There was one written about the paranoia and anxiety of living in Nazi Germany. One would think that wouldn’t be comedic but it was. It was just the right amount of worry portrayed by the parents, but their situation was so out of hand it is sickly funny. The parents ultimately grew so paranoid that they were overthinking every word they spoke in the situation.
Every member of the audience was able to see the performers perfectly at every given moment. The stage was well used. They would all roam from one side to the other and even be interactive with the audience in their more “comedic relief” moments.
The sound was all generated by the actors. Every step they took, every prop being moved and their deafening silence. A perfect example of their homemade sounds was in the story of the “Jewish wife” played by Alys Dickerson. Every frustrated sigh, every clink of her drink and every turn of her telephone brought to life the set. Dickerson embodied the scene and the play, especially when she silently sat in the middle of the stage.
Dickerson created an awkward, yet appropriate feel as she had a mental breakdown for the audience to witness. She showed all her raw emotions of confusion, distraught and stress about her possible decision to leave her husband and her life behind.
In the end, there is a sense of unity and power in numbers. There is a “happy conclusion,” but the ride there is a rollercoaster of emotions.
“Fear and Misery in the Third Reich” runs through March 11 at The Den Theatre.
4 out of 5 Torches