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This Holocaust story starts a bit glibly, but soon erupts into a powerhouse

Wednesday, Jan 4 2006
After visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Gerry E. Studds -- the first openly gay member of Congress -- declared, "Of the many places we [homosexuals] never existed, certainly the Holocaust was one, in most people's minds." Keeping this idea in mind, Theatre Rhino Artistic Director John Fisher has revived Martin Sherman's award-winning and extremely relevant play about a gay man in 1934 Germany, where the only thing considered lower than being marked by the yellow Jewish star was being marked by the pink triangle. The inspired set design of Erik Flatmo depicts Max (a passionate Clayton B. Hodges) descending from his booze-filled Berlin party pad through a cabaret dressing room, a tent city, and a detention train, and finally drops him onto a barren stage with a pile of heavy rocks for the devastatingly written, produced, and performed second half. This affecting production starts a bit glibly with clichéd performances but soon erupts into an unsettling powerhouse that provokes, educates, and also entertains. Grounded by Kevin Clarke's heartfelt portrayal of a prisoner dignifying his pink badge, the rock-bottom end leaves audiences in the midst of an unequivocal horror that somehow still allows space for intimate love and self-acceptance.

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Nathaniel Eaton


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