The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings

Search Curtainup








NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Review
The Good And the True

I am glad I survived. — Milos Dobry
Good and True
Saul Reichlin (Photo: Jeremy Daniel)
Theatrical works about the Holocaust are often confronted with a rather unusual difficulty: the event which motivates their creative force is so monstrous, so charged and fraught with its own nature and the decades of analysis and attempts to understand it since, that anything which addresses it directly risks being immediately overwhelmed.

There have been various solutions to this problem — abstract the event by representing it in fantasy and obscure references; for example, Pan's Labyrinth or Art Spiegelman's Maus. Another is to stand witness to what happened with direct testimony as in Elie Wiesel's Night. An even more impossible way is to satirize those responsible, as in Monty Python's "Mr. Hilter" sketch.

In the New End Theatre Beyond's new production of The Good and the True at the DR2 Theatre, the emphasis is decidedly on standing witness, and the result is mixed. The two people involved are both interesting and admirable, but the show itself is, sadly, considerably less compelling.

Originally produced by the Svandovo Theatre in Prague, The Good and the True tells the stories of actress Hana Pravda (played by her real life granddaughter Isobel Pravda) and rugby star Milos Dobry (the redoubtable Saul Reichlin). Compilers Tomas Hrbek, Lucie Kolouchova and Daniel Hrbek (also the director, scenic and costume designer) use authentic testimonies for the entirety of the play's dialogue, allowing each character to essentially tell his or her own tale as the audience listens.

Predictably, the stories are powerful ones. Pravda explains the struggle to be with her love as the two are separated at Auschwitz, while Dobry's story of brutality, hatred, fear and ultimately survival through Auschwitz and Mengele's experimental camps is perhaps even more harrowing. Hrbek does little to enhance this effect, likely believing that the tale should speak for itself. An effective set (fronted by barbed wire), lighting and sound design scheme helps focus our attention on the people themselves.

The problem, however, is that a dramatic experience can't simply rest on even the most compelling witness testimony. Pravda and Reichlin do an exceptional job letting their characters do the talking. But there's little surprise here, little in the way of revelation or insight or truth: just the plodding horror of an event so staggeringly evil and overwhelmingly sadistic it defies attempts to encapsulate it.

There is no interaction between the characters at all (apparently Pravda and Dobry never met); one speaks, then the other which gives the audience the strange sense that it's watching two separate one-person shows rather than one unified narrative. And since the outcome is, thankfully, assured — Pravda and Dobry both survived to tell their stories —there's little in the way of dramatic tension either, or indeed even dramatic engagement.

In some ways I'm loath to go down this path. The people being represented have important stories to tell, after all, and perhaps a more traditionally dramatic approach would have cheapened or minimized their experiences. But theater of this kind is supposed to be transformative, to say something in dramatic form which could not be said in any other artistic medium and truthfully I could have been just as moved reading Pravda's and Dobry's firsthand accounts as watching their actors dutifully recite their personal narratives in turn.
I came away from The Good and the True feeling renewed admiration for the millions who both did and did not survive the Holocaust; I just wish I could have felt the same engagement in this dramatic representation of their stories.

The Good and the True
Compilers: Tomas Hrbek, Lucie Kolouchova and Daniel Hrbek English Adaptation: Brian Daniels Director: Daniel Hrbek
Cast: Isobel Pravda (Hana Pravda), Saul Reichlin (Milos Dobry)
Scenic and Costume Design: Daniel Hrbek
Original Lighting Design: Karel Simek
Original Sound Design: Stanislav Halbrstat
Running time: Seventy minutes
DR2 Theatre, 101 East 15th Street, (212) 239-6200
From 7/31/14 to 9/14/14, opening 8/3/14
Tuesday-Saturday @ 8 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday @ 2 p.m., Sunday @ 3 p.m.
Tickets: $65
Reviewed by Dr. Gregory A. Wilson based on August 5th performance
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of The Good and the True
  • I disagree with the review of The Good and the True
  • The review made me eager to see The Good and the True
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted add to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter
Subscribe to our FREE email updates: E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message. If you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
The New Similes Dictionary
New Similes Dictionary

Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows- view 1st episode free

Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show

©Copyright 2014, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from