Kinderspiel

 CHILDS'PLAY Oro, right, acts like a baby.

CHILDS'PLAY Oro, right, acts like a baby.

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Weimar Berlin has long fascinated theater artists, and the decadence and debauchery of that time seem particularly relevant in these apocalyptic times—no wonder the Roundabout is rumored to be bringing back its smash revival of Cabaret. But unlike that dark yet crowd-pleasing musical, the inventive folks at the Stolen Chair Theatre Company explore the era with the existential Kinderspiel; think No Exit decked out in fishnets and Art Deco decay.

Heinrich (Sam Dingman), an idealistic (and perhaps ghostly) narrator, recounts the tale of his underground pals the Kinderspielers: the down-on-her-luck dancer Louisa (Alexia Vernon), the well-heeled Jewish playboy Max (the wry Cameron J. Oro) and lesbian journalist Sonja (Liza Wade White). These cabaret performers speak gibberish and engage in childlike play in the basement of an abandoned club. When Heinrich hires WWI widow Anna (the intense Lanya Fisher) to clean up after the trio, the carefree revelers are forced to face the pain of their country’s depression.

Jon Stancato directs Kiran Rikhye’s unsentimental script with a minimum of fuss. Although the second act could stand some trimming, the overall effect is haunting. Watching these slightly cracked adults play with desperate abandon reminds us that the worst of times may bring out the best in artists, but in the end it’s the politicians who get to rule (and ruin) the world.

Under St. Marks By Kiran Rikhye. Dir. Jon Stancato. With ensemble cast. 2hrs. One intermission.