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    2008-2009 reviews:
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    Fascists to fascists

    "Mephisto" is a new adaptation of the novel that gave birth to the famous film of the same name, the story of spying and betrayal in a German theater during the Nazis' rise to power.


    Based on Klaus Mann's 1949 novel, which also inspired the 1981 Academy Award-winning film of the same name, "Mephisto" tells the story of how the rising tide of fascism affects a group of actors and writers in the Germany of the 1930s.

    Directed by: Rachel Kranz.
    Based on the novel by: Klaus Mann.
    Cast: David Palmer Brown, Soraya Butler, Anushka Carter, Sabrina Cowen, Tim Cusack, Dee Dee Friedman, Mark Leydorf, Gerald Marsini, Matthew Pritchard, John Hall, Joel Van Liew.
    The actors are involved in three different kinds of theater: Germany's "regional theater," political cabaret and the Nazi-created State Theater. Beginning in November 1923 — as Hitler's "Beer Hall Putsch" coup attempt fails — there's tension in the Hamburg Theater Company between bon vivant diva Carola Martin (played by Dee Dee Friedman) and Miklas (Tim Cusack), an actor who is a Nazi sympathizer. Drinking with the theater caretaker after the evening's performance, Miklas declares: "German people have lost thier honor, but Hitler will get it back for them."

    Meanwhile, Hendrik (Mark Leydorf) tells the black dancer he has been having an affair with that she's forbidden to come to his theater and she begs him to teach her communism. The Pepper Mill, a revolutionary cabaret, rehearses a farcical skit about a pregnant woman trying to get social security from an uncooperative bureaucrat. Debate ensues as to whether the people need revolutionary theater and an actor declares his allegiance to communism. A poor young boy is found hiding in one of the theaters and Miklas convinces him to join the Nazis, promising him a bowl of soup a day.

    Hendrik's career takes off and he becomes a darling of the Nazis. A wealthy associate of the actors laments what has happened to Germany, saying, "We are headed for the abyss — I feel sorry for you, my children." As the grim events of early 1933 play out, some of the actors plan their escapes while others are doomed.

    "Mephisto" is a gripping, involving drama that may very well make you glad you are living in the U.S. in the year 2001 and not in Germany 70 years ago. The actors do a great job (some play dual roles) and persevere while having to wear heavy wool outfiits in the un-air-conditioned theater.

    JUNE 25, 2001

    Reader comments on Mephisto:

  • Trying to find the script for Mephisto   from Jonathon Ward, Oct 15, 2008

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