Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Features and More

Review: Moving 'Lebensraum' at Jobsite engages the mind

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA

Two mega events in Lebensraum, a play by Israel Horovitz currently at Jobsite Theater, are true.

Systematic genocide before and during World War II wiped out 6 million Jews. Descendants of the perpetrators have been grappling with the "German Question" ever since: How was Auschwitz possible?

The rest of the story is fictional. A German chancellor awakens from a transformational nightmare around 2000 with a solution: Germany will open its doors to 6 million Jews from anywhere. They will get citizenship and jobs.

Three actors play some 60 roles, each taking turns to narrate the action. Derrick Phillips, Ned Averill-Snell and Katrina Stevenson play one character at a time, so the multiplicity of roles is not as busy as it may seem. They make delightful use of a handful of props (designed by Jobsite's producing artistic director David Jenkins, who also directed the show ) and do a lot of heavy lifting to make it work.

The production does work, and an intellectually engaging script throws in a dash of humor to help its message go down. That doesn't mean seeing Lebensraum is easy. It moves at a fast pace and takes the audience to some dreary places, including the darkest holes in the psyche of a Buchenwald survivor. That's uncomfortable and it's supposed to be.

That said, Lebensraum is not a binary sermon. Both the impulses toward healing the German guilt and the impossibility of doing so with a simple magnanimous gesture are presented. Two of the central characters, both played by Averill-Snell, are Mike Linsky, an unemployed American dockworker and the lifelong German dockworker whose job Linsky takes.

Lizzie Linsky, Mike's wife, is reluctant at first to leave Gloucester, Mass., for Germany. By doing so, she says, they would become like the very people who get sideways glances at the local convenience store.

"We would be like immigrants," she says. Exactly. Instead, the likable Linskys and their son Sammy become instant celebrities. Politicians and the media celebrate "Project Homecoming" without having to bear the consequences of massive layoffs in a country already torn by unemployment. At the same time, the absurdity of applying a Band-Aid solution to the Holocaust lies parallel with the generosity in at least of making the attempt.

The dozens of stories told in Lebensraum (including an ill-fated romance between Sammy and the laid off German dockworker's daughter) take place on a three-level set of bare lumber walkways by Brian Smallheer, suggestive of rough transitions.

Of the actors, Stevenson most clearly defines each character, from Lizzie to Sammy's love interest to an upper-class German woman who hires the concentration camp survivor as a caregiver to her elderly mother. But all three have their moments and have put their shoulders to the wheel in a massive effort.

While most of the play does without music, a strings interlude plays when the actors briefly step back as narrators to emphasize that the atrocities of the Holocaust were aided and supported by normal people. People, in other words, like us. It might be the strongest point made in Lebensraum, and is certainly one of the most moving.

Contact Andrew Meacham at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

Comments
Hometown Pasco for Nov. 24

Hometown Pasco for Nov. 24

We want your news! Hometown Pasco is devoted to everyday life in our county, whether it’s snapshots from your family reunion, recreational sporting event, news from your last club meeting or just a few lines thanking someone for a job well do...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Here's where to see Christmas lights in Tampa Bay

Here's where to see Christmas lights in Tampa Bay

Once the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away, you can stop grumbling about it being too early for Christmas lights and decorations. Let the grand illuminations begin! Despite our tropical climate, or maybe because of it, Tampa Bay goes all out when ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ is a sad waste of Denzel Washington

‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ is a sad waste of Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington’s labored portrayal of a shambling legal savant named Roman J. Israel, Esq. is the least of the movie’s worries. This is a story of shifting ethics that should be dramatic, but shaky logic prevents that from happening.Dan Gilroy’s f...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Plan your weekend: Indie shopping, Lindsey Stirling, ice skating, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith

Plan your weekend: Indie shopping, Lindsey Stirling, ice skating, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith

Plan your weekendShoppingBlack Friday: Avoid the madness of the malls at a variety of indie shopping experiences this weekend. Skatepark of Tampa has one of the best sneaker selections in Tampa Bay and free skating all day Friday to celebrate. They’l...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Trump pardons Thanksgiving turkeys and takes a shot at Obama

Trump pardons Thanksgiving turkeys and takes a shot at Obama

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump wielded his pardon power Tuesday to spare a pair of turkeys from the Thanksgiving roaster, joking that he would also let last year’s turkey pardons stand despite his penchant for overturning Obama-era orders. In a ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Thanksgiving can put a heavy burden on the host. We’ve assembled five appetizers that are quick and easy to prep. Some, like our risotto balls and goat-cheese figs, cater to vegetarian diets, so you can be sure to please all your guests. Even i...
Published: 11/21/17
‘Last Flag Flying’ is kind of a puzzling follow-up to 1973’s ‘The Last Detail’

‘Last Flag Flying’ is kind of a puzzling follow-up to 1973’s ‘The Last Detail’

Richard Linklater called 2016’s Everybody Wants Some!! a "spiritual sequel" to his last-century breakout Dazed and Confused. Different characters, same youthful, life-exploring vibe.Linklater’s latest, Last Flag Flying, can be considered a spiritual ...
Published: 11/21/17
Five ideas for cooking with fresh cranberries

Five ideas for cooking with fresh cranberries

Cranberry sauce has long been a fixture on the holiday table. According to the Chicago Tribune, Ocean Spray, the popular producer of cranberry sauce, cans about 70 million tins of the stuff a year, 85 percent of which gets sold between Thanksgiving a...
Published: 11/21/17
Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’ has a Dia de los Muertos theme and is, well, lifeless

Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’ has a Dia de los Muertos theme and is, well, lifeless

Disney-Pixar’s Coco was more enjoyable three years ago when it was titled The Book of Life and came from Twentieth Century Fox.Both animated features spring from Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos celebration, the annual "day of the dead" when departed rela...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Della Reese, of TV’s ‘Touched by an Angel,’ has died at 86

Della Reese, of TV’s ‘Touched by an Angel,’ has died at 86

LOS ANGELES — Della Reese, the actress and gospel-influenced singer who in middle age found her greatest fame as Tess, the wise angel in the long-running television drama "Touched by an Angel," has died at age 86. Reese’s co-star on the series, Roma ...
Published: 11/20/17