Theater, Drama
3 out of 5 stars
Photograph: Dixie Sheridan Hoaxocaust!

Did Hoaxocaust! really happen? That’s a running question in Barry Levey’s semisatirical monologue, in which he recounts a globe-trotting voyage into the creepy world of Holocaust denial. Spurred by arguments with his Midwestern Jewish family and his Dominican boyfriend, Levey begins to wonder whether Jews evoke Nazi Germany too readily to defend their own insularity and Israel’s military policy: Does this the-Shoah-must-go-on attitude trigger an implicit Godwin’s Law that makes non-Jews tune out or turn against the conversation? From this starting point, Levey, who cannily presents himself as a nervous nonperformer, embarks on a series of brief encounters with renowned revisionists, including England’s David Irving and France’s Robert Faurisson. The unlikeness of his story creates what could be an interesting tension with the show’s concerns about historical veracity, but this potential is not fully realized; the unreliability of the narrative is clear from the start. And although Levey means to illustrate how easy it can be to fall for misinformation, especially in the Internet era, the conclusion of his show effectively obviates the preceding hour in one or two minutes of facts. Meanwhile, what turns out to be his central contention remains underdeveloped. Hoaxocaust! raises provocative questions, then spends most of its time evading them: It may be true that evoking the Holocaust helps spur anti-Semitism, but Levey’s story doesn’t makes a convincing argument about that, either polemically or dramatically. The play has already had a 2012 run at Theater for the New City. It would be interesting to see a version that was further revised, with more rigor in addressing the central thesis and less time spent on what amounts to a wild goose-step chase.—Adam Feldman

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