The Pink Triangle” by Win Wells examines the lives of four men who survived Nazi concentration camps after being imprisoned for being homosexual. The first act is well written, performed and directed. The second act only echoes the first and, while not as powerful, still offers harrowing and moving moments.
Director Robert Schrock boldly uses the nearly bare stage and, one by one, sets an older man against a younger version of himself to unfold the stories.
The play takes place alternately in N.Y.C., 1978, and in Nazi Germany; it begins with Ernst (Neil Elliot; Kenneth Hughes as the younger), who went blind on a hunger strike protesting his reimprisonment by the new West German government after he had been released from a concentration camp.
Female impersonator Ritzi (Richard Ryder, Lon Michael) recalls how he knew his act would bring the authorities, but he had nowhere to run.
History professor Hinkelmann (George Shannon, Tom Ardavany) was Hitler’s personal valet and an SS officer, until he fell in love with a fellow officer. And Blossom (Sean Moran, Amit Itelman), a florist, was a 15-year-old Jew from Brooklyn when his parents decided to visit relatives in Poland at the wrong time.
This version of the play, taken from a much longer text by Win Wells, seems so complete at the end of the first act, that act two mainly reiterates. And while a liberal use of nudity sometimes shows just how stripped of everything these men were, often it works against itself. Well-fed and muscled bodies, for instance, detract from the idea of the camps’ severity. ]
The four older members of the cast — Elliot, Ryder, Shannon and Moran — serve the most drama and flavor. They set the tone and mood, and also add humor. Their younger counterparts are prosaic in comparison, with the exception of Amit Itelman as young Blossom. ]
Leonard Pollack’s costumes bring a strong sense of time and place. Robbie Conal’s painted images of such people as J. Edgar Hoover, Roy Cohn and Richard Nixon remind the audience that homophobia has been a powerful force to reckon with long after Nazi Germany died. Yael Pardess’ clever unit set and Ken Booth’s artful lighting add to the quality of the show. ]