Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Puppetmaster of Lodz

Photo/Jim Baldassare

Admit it; if you'd been forced to burn your wife's body in a concentration camp then somehow managed to escape back to "civilization" and an apartment, to gather what money and resources you had around you -- you'd lock the world out too, wouldn't you? Well, that's what Finklebaum (a stunning Robert Zukerman) has done in The Puppetmaster of Lodz, and though his concierge (Suzanne Toren) might try to convince him to come out -- it's 1950 and the war is long gone -- bringing Russian, American, and Hebrew men off the street (Daniel Damiano) to help her argument, he knows too well the high cost of trust. Ironically, there are a few good twists in this play that suggest not only might he be right to remain suspicious, but others might do well to be suspicious of him. The play spends its time switching between the friendly wolves at his door and Finklebaum's attempts to wrap himself ever tighter in a web of imagination. But try as he might to rewrite the story, he is too logical, too intelligent to lose himself for good (though he may talk to a life-sized puppet, he's no dummy), and that's perhaps the greatest tragedy of all. I'm engaged by the clever arguments between the Outside and Finklebaum (which grow increasingly bleak as his imagination goes to work), but also by Zukerman's own performance -- although he's clearly not a talented puppetmaster, he shares his character's convictions, and believes so much that the audience cannot help but stare on in fascination and sorrow.

[Read on] [Also blogged by: Patrick]

No comments: