Fountain Theatre, Los Angeles
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“The story of American indifference to saving Europe’s Jews from Hitler is one deserving, even demanding,” a thoughtful retelling, said Bob Verini in Variety. In The Accomplices, Bernard Weinraub attempts, and ultimately fails, to convincingly dramatize this “well-documented blot on America’s honor.” The former New York Times reporter turned playwright tells the story from the perspective of real-life activist Peter Bergson, whose efforts to raise awareness of the Holocaust were met by officials’ reactions ranging from indifference to outright bigotry. Unfortunately, however, the play devolves into a “cardboard historical pageant” and feels like a “blanket indictment” of the power elite of the time. Weinraub deserves kudos for the bravery of his debut effort, but “his command of characterization doesn’t match his research skills and passion.” He’s just not a playwright.
“Like any muckraker worth his salt, Weinraub knows how to level accusations and make them sting,” said Charles McNulty in the Los Angeles Times. No one here gets off the hook. Franklin Roosevelt, played amiably by James Harper, wants to avoid political damage. The powerful American Jewish leader Rabbi Stephen Wise, played by Morlan Higgins, seems preoccupied with his own political position. Even Weinraub’s former employer, The Times, is implicated for indifference to these historical events. Bergson comes across as a noble obsessive, but there’s an unbridgeable distance between his passion and the “phony telegraphic manner” in which Steven Schub portrays him. Halfway through this production, you wish you were reading “a more polished magazine account of the saga by Weinraub,” rather than sitting through a subpar play.
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