The Good and the True. DR2 Theatre (see Off Broadway). By Daniel Hrbek, Tomas Hrbek and Lucie Kolouchova. Translated by Brian Daniels. Directed by Daniel Hrbek. With Hannah D. Scott, Saul Reichlin. Running time: 1hr 15mins. No intermission.
The Good and the True: In brief
This internationally acclaimed Czech two-hander celebrates the lives of athlete Milos Dobry (Saul Reichlin) and actor Hana Pravda (Hannah D. Scott), who lived through the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in the 1930s. Coauthor Daniel Hrbek directs the U.S. premiere (translated by Brian Daniels).
The Good and the True: Theater review by Raven Snook
Holocaust dramas are often disturbing, but the harrowing true-life stories of a pair of survivors feel especially unsettling considering the current turmoil in the Middle East. The Good and the True interweaves chronological monologues describing the World War II experiences of two notable Jewish Czechs: athlete Milos Dobry (Reichlin, full of gusto) and performer Hana Pravda (played beautifully by understudy Scott at the performance attended due to work-visa woes of star Isobel Pravda, who happens to be Hana Pravda's granddaughter). Both protagonists were young and secular, and spent time at Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, never meeting. However, they shared an unlikely combination of resilience, optimism and (compared to the millions who perished) shockingly good luck.
Though the overall arcs of their stories are depressingly familiar, they're rich with unique and compelling details. Pravda recalls being asked to hold a Nazi's rifle while he went through her art and fantasizes about shooting him; Dobry manipulates his way into a kitchen job so he'll always have enough to eat at the camp. So the play, originally presented by Prague's Svandovo Theatre, stops short of being a dry history lesson.
But it's not quite a tearjerker, either. There's something strangely stoic about it at times, perhaps because the set (designed by director Daniel Hrbek) keeps the characters at a literal distance from the audience behind barbed wire, and from each other—train tracks strewn with shoes bisect the stage. However, though the physical production lacks poignancy, its moral is as timely as ever: The systematic dehumanization of people should never be tolerated.—Theater review by Raven Snook