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  • gilwilson 9:43 PM on June 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Andrew Hawkes, , , , Ben Diskin, , concentration camps, , human nature, incident at vichy, , , Jon Matthews, , , , , , , Robert Lesser, Shahar Sorek, socialism, ,   

    “Incident at Vichy” by Arthur Miller from “The Arthur Miller Collection” Published by L.A. Theatre Works 

    “Incident at Vichy”
    by Arthur Miller
    from “The Arthur Miller Collection” Published by L.A. Theatre Works
    starring: Ben Diskin, Arye Gross, Jamie Hanes, Andrew Hawkes, Gregory Itzin, Robert Lesser, Jon Matthews, Lawrence Pressman, Raphael Sbarge, Armin Shimerman and Shahar Sorek.
    70 minutes

    “Incident at Vichy” has got to be one of the most intense one-act plays ever. In just over one hour Arthur Miller manages to tell a story that begins with hope but ends with hopelessness. Knowing world history this is one of those plays that while the world knows the general outcome, of the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis, but this play explores the how. Looking back from our 21st century viewpoint it is really hard to see how Germany got by with what was done to the Jews and how they managed to gather all those listed as inferior and put them in Death Camps. This play demonstrates how human nature, guilt, fear, and enabled the Nazis to perpetrate the Holocaust with so little resistance.

    This one-act play takes place in a police station where a group of detainees are waiting for inspection by German officers. The detainees are all trying to deny the actual reason they were brought in (because the are suspected of being Jews) and try to tell themselves that it is a routine document check. But when some bring up that their noses were measured, and they all realize that most of them are Jews, then the fear of the real reason begins. Each one has story to tell and most of the stories are about escaping German occupied France to Vichy where they think they would be safe.

    At one point one of the detainees tells of rumors of the Death Camps and the furnaces. Some of the more able-bodied remaining detainees attempt an escape but it is thwarted by the French major who is an injured veteran of the German / French part of the war, and is now forced to assist the Germans. Each one is pulled into the interrogation room some leave to go back to work some are not seen again.

    The final scene in this play is when the last detainee is trying to convince the major to let him go and the discussion over whose life is more valuable begins.

    The play is an enlightening glimpse into the darker side of human nature and is by no means one that will lift your spirits, however,the cast in this performance are perfect in their character representations. Another great production from L.A. Theater Works.

  • gilwilson 3:22 AM on March 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , human nature, re, , under the dome   

    “Under the Dome: A Novel” by Stephen King Published 2009 by Scribner 

    “Under the Dome: A Novel”
    by Stephen King
    Published 2009 by Scribner

    When it comes to horror Stephen King is the master, but he doesn’t always write about horror, sometimes Stephen King writes about the human condition and how human beings treat other human beings, and when looked at under the Stephen King magnifying glass that can be pretty horrific.

    When I first picked up this huge book, I thought, “When am I going to find the time to read a 1,500+ page book?”  Well, I did find the time and am I glad I did.  During the reading of this book I felt as though I were hovering above the microcosm of the town of Chester’s Mill, Maine and observing the trapped insects within.  Stephen King has taken the faithful reader on many adventures which are epic sagas, for example;  “The Stand,” The Dark Tower series, “The Shining,” “It,” and others.  These books not only tell a story but they tell a story on a grand scale that would astonish Tolkien or Herbert.  “Under the Dome” definitely falls into this grand scale, not only because of the length of 1,500+ pages, but because of the depth the reader gets to know the characters involved.

    The premise of the story is pretty much, “What would happen if all of a sudden a town was covered in a dome?”  The answer to that is, “It depends on who lives in that town.”  That’s what happens to the small town of Chester’s Mill.  A dome of unknown material and origin surrounds and covers the town all of a sudden on a lazy Saturday afternoon.  Being a typical Stephen King novel the initial affects are pretty gruesome; a woodchuck gets sliced in half with one side on the dome and one on the other, a plane flying in the dome hits the dome itself, crashes, and sends body parts flying, a woman gardening at the edge of where the dome materializes gets her hands cut off, and many birds flying nonchalantly smash into the dome and die.  All of this within the first 50 pages!

    What happens next is where the true epoch begins.  The U.S. government tries to bust the dome from the outside with missiles and learns the strange phenomenon is impermeable.  Inside the dome is a former soldier, Dale Barbara, who after Afghanistan wants to simply blend in and not be noticed.  But the President jumps him up to Colonel and says he’s in charge until the threat is gone.

    The problem with that is a greedy politician and religious zealot, “Big Jim” Renfield.  Rennie, to his friends, is the second selectman in this town and uses the dome to try and become a dictator.  The issue with Big Jim is that he has also used the town, his church and the local Christian radio station to become the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of meth-amphetamine.  He was under investigation by the state’s attorney general and the local sheriff but since the dome happened he sees himself as exonerated and in charge.

    Rennie soon starts recruiting the town’s bullies as police officers and declares his own form of Marshall law.  He closes down the grocery stores, ceases all sales of liquor and even starts a food riot to show how he knows best. Rennie sees Barbara as a threat to his power and soon pins 4 murders (which were committed by Rennie and his son) on now Colonel Barbara and arrests him.  Rennie then begins to brainwash the public into thinking the government sent Barbara into the town to create the dome and conduct an experiment on the little town.

    This book takes the reader in depth into the struggle for power and shows just how corruptible people can be.  I will admit that the explanation of the dome’s creation lacks a little umph but that is not really the main ideal behind the story so I’ll let that one slide, although it did seem a bit of a juvenile way to end the book.  No matter how it ends, the total consumption of this book is a great adventure.

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