A VIEW FROM THE CLIFF: â€œA Bright Room Called Day at Brooklyn College
Posted:Thursday, March 1, 2012 9:00 am |Â Updated: 10:00 pm, Wed Feb 29, 2012.
BY CLIFF KASDEN
The cataclysmic events surrounding the Nazi takeover in Germany reach an agonizing crescendo in Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner™s intense drama A Bright Room Called Day. Presented as theatre-in-the-round on Brooklyn College™s Whitman stage, the battle between the conservative right and the radical left is the unabashed theme of the production.
The line between harsh reality and bizarre fantasy is intentionally blurred by the author and reinforced by the actors. Emily DeSena plays Zillah, a 1980s protester who sits unseen with the 1930s activists. Her righteous indignation and frequent anti-establishment hyperboles are well played.
The Devil, or one of his incarnations, appears from the mist as Gottfried Swetts (Skyler Sullivan), an importer of Spanish novelties. He offers a unique gift to the stunned radicals.
The last mystical character is Die Alte (the old one) portrayed by Layla Khoshnoudi. She enters through the fire escape, bewildered and bedraggled. She represents the silent majority of 1930s Germans who were unwilling or unable to stop the flood of horrors triggered by Hitler™s henchmen. The playwright's parallels to the Ronald Reagan era seem somehow less potent in light of more current conservative movers and shakers.
Fiery Gotchling played by Sarah Poleshuck is quite convincing as a strong woman willing to take enormous risks. Equally persuasive is lovely starlet Paulinka (Amanda Holston) who is addicted to opium and psychotherapy. She stumbles into action defending her friend against Nazi thugs.
One eyed Husz (Marcus D. Harvey) explodes with anger when Gregor Bazwald (J.J. Condon) describes his chance meeting with Hitler. Husz rails, Why didn't you shoot him. You had a gun!â€ Both flee the country. Communist activists Rosa (Bree Klauser) and Emil Traum (Jordane Christie) also plan to escape.
Kristi Funk Dana plays Agnes, an actress who is sympathetic but not wholly committed to leftist ideologies. Ms. Dana is the hub around which all other characterizations turn. She sees and understands what is happening in her homeland but is helpless or unwilling to prevent the evil momentum engulfing her country.
Directed by Dave Dalton with outstanding set design by Pei-Wen Huang, the play runs until March 4. Call the Brooklyn Center at 718-951-4500 for tickets or check the webpage at http//depthome.brooklyn.cuny.edu/theater.
Brooklyn stages continue to bring light to dark wintry days. As always, save me a seat on the aisle.