Review: ‘All Our Children’ during The Sheen Center

Among a unthinkable atrocities perpetrated underneath Adolf Hitler’s authority was Aktion T4 (or a “Euthanasia Decree”) – a systematic murder of an estimated 200,000 people with disabilities, including children, teens, and youths, between 1939 and 1945, during 6 converted psychiatric hospitals in Germany and Austria. To transparent their inhumane discuss of extermination, a Nazis personal their targets as Lebensunwertes Leben (“life undeserved of life” – or ‘invalid’ people), dogmatic that their mass obliteration would assuage a struggles of their families and a financial burdens they placed on a government.

Based on loyal events of a Holocaust, Stephen Unwin’s useful modern-day probity play All Our Children, creation a American entrance during The Sheen Center after a critically-acclaimed rendezvous in London, presents a fictionalized comment of one such trickery that committed these Nazi horrors, and of a real-life minister Clemens von Galen, Bishop of Münster, who courageously intervened. Under a hazard of his possess execution, he gave sermons, that were printed and illegally distributed, and met with members of a SS, in an try to stop a killings. Known as a “Lion of Münster,” von Galen was towering to a arrange of Cardinal by Pope Pius XII in 1946, and beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, for his denouncements of that and other Third Reich policies, including a detain of Jesuits and a lien of Church properties.

John Glover, Karl Kenzler, and Sam Lilja. Photo by Maria Baranova.

Unwin’s account is set in 1941, on a dusk of Jan 6 (the Feast of a Epiphany – a “manifestation of divinity” in a Catholic liturgical calendar), during a hospital for infirm patients underneath a age of 25, in Winkelheim, Germany. Inside a offices, a invented characters (two of a institution’s administrators, a maid, and a mom of one of a patients) and a visiting Bishop benefaction their anomalous perspectives in illusory conversations and indignant clashes, disclosing their backstories and their personal, ideological, and reliable beliefs and concerns about a value of life and a state-ordered “mercy killings” of a innocents, done, according to a Nazis, “for a common good.”

Directed by Ethan McSweeny with a transparent and solid hand, a tragedy grows and a sides are drawn, as truths are unclosed about a core and a mission, and a characters come to terms with their particular complicity and particular ethics and conscience. Tony Award leader John Glover stars as an intelligent, compassionate, and dauntless von Galen, who stays peaceful and receptive in his arguments, though unaffected in his philosophy and dynamic to outcome a change. His description bespeaks a dignity, commitment, and firmness of a male who does what he does “because it’s right” (while also subtly acknowledging that his actions were selective, never carrying oral out publicly in support of a Jews or other victims of a Nazis). In contrast, Sam Lilja spews hatred, contempt, and offend as a bloody Nazi Administrator Eric Schmidt, a institution’s Deputy Director who callously oversees a orders to send patients off to their deaths with chilling remorselessness. He is indifferent to a pleas and pang of a mothers he encounters, melancholy to his colleagues, and invariable in his immoderate loyalty to a iniquitous ideals of a Aryan Nation.

In his divulgence interactions with a dual antithetical characters, Karl Kenzler shows a building recognition and bewail in his purpose as a clinic’s Director, Victor Franz, an changeable unwed and childless alloy and voiced non-believer who follows Nazi orders and recites a celebration line to those who doubt or intent to a ruthless policy. But he also drinks, smokes, and coughs to excess, recalls his motivations in apropos a physician, and starts to re-evaluate his correspondence in a execution of a people he had dictated to help. His conflicted description reveals a inner discuss of a male who knows his possess position and life will be during risk if he disobeys orders, though competence not be means go on vital with himself if he doesn’t.

Karl Kenzler and Tasha Lawrence. Photo by Maria Baranova.

Jennifer Dundas turns in a heartwarming opening as Martha a maid. She is caring and efficient, a maternal participation and righteous Catholic who worries about her possess fifteen-year-old daughter doing what’s “natural” too shortly and comes to commend that there should be concept adore and affability for “all a children.” Rounding out a superb expel is Tasha Lawrence as Elizabetta Pabst, a overworked bankrupt widow of WWI and a amatory mom of an epileptic son committed to a clinic. Her appearance changes from shaken and grateful to ravaged and outraged, when a rumors she’s listened about a trickery infer to be loyal and she binds Dr. Franz (unable to empathise with a surpassing feelings of parental love) accountable.

Period-style costumes by Tracy Christensen conclude a characters and elicit a era, as does a sound pattern by Lindsay Jones, with exemplary song and German newscasts listened over a selected tabletop radio. The production’s in-the-round pattern (set by Lee Savage) is up-close and intimate, with comfortable and beautiful antique furnishings that contrariety with a high rows of grey steel filing cabinets behind, containing a annals of a children who’ve been gassed, or are shortly to be. And McSweeny’s constrained instruction keeps a actors moving, as a eyes follow them in and out and around a room with watchful attention.

A intense reverence to a people who suffered and died (Unwin is a father of a infirm child, so a thesis is a really personal one for him), and to those who stood up, lifted their voices, and bravely objected to a offensive module of murder when a infancy of adults didn’t, All Our Children is a retaining sign of a realities of a Holocaust and a need to pronounce adult opposite taste and harm whenever and wherever we see it.

Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes, but intermission.

All Our Children plays by Sunday, May 12, 2019, during The Sheen Center – 18 Bleecker Street, NYC. For tickets, call (212) 925-2812, or squeeze them online

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