Studio Theatre Playhouse presents a Colony Production of “Incident at Vichy,” a play in one act by Arthur Miller. Directed by Scott Segall. Producer, Barbara Beckley. Scenic design, Gary Wissmann; lighting design, D. Silvio Volonte; costume design , Jill Klein; sound design, John Fisher; accordion solos, Diane Barkauskas. Opened Dec. 2, 1995, reviewed Jan. 5, 1996; closes Feb. 4. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. TX:Cast: Lon Huber (Lebeau), Tim O’Hare (Bayard), William Joerres (Marchand), Todd Mooney (Police Guard), David Carey Foster (Monceau), J. Louis Messina (Gypsy), Robert Stephen Ryan (Waiter), Ben Gould (Boy), Gil Johnson (Major), Glenn Reasoner (Detective), Stuart Lancaster (Old Jew), David Rose (Leduc), Jackson Sleet (Police Captain), Todd Nielson (Von Berg), Jonathan Palmer (Professor Hoffman), Blaise Messinger (Ferrand). Arthur Miller’s wordy one-acter is more a “statement” on the universal complicity that aided and abetted Hitler’s “Final Solution” than it is a true drama. The talented Colony ensemble tries mightily to breathe life into Miller’s overly programmed characters, but the players are hampered by the playwright’s agenda and Scott Segall’s lackadaisical, unimaginative staging. As they wait to be commanded to enter the interrogation room, the 10 detainees discuss, argue, rationalize and spout philosophies upon the fates that have brought themselves and civilization to this place in time. The main protagonists are the homosexual Austrian aristocrat Von Berg (Todd Nielsen), the former soldier Dr. Leduc (David Rose), the Communist laborer Bayard (Tim O’Hare) , the actor Monceau (David Carey Foster) and the starving artist Lebeau (Lon Huber).
The standouts in the cast are Nielsen and Huber. Nielsen gives a sensitive and touching portrayal of a true aesthete whose every word and action express the complete revulsion he feels that the Nazi beast was born and bred among his own people. Huber is both funny and pitiful as the threadbare painter whose pleading eyes seek salvation from any opinion that offers hope.
Though their portrayals exhibit depth and understanding, Rose, O’Hare and Foster are too often trapped by Miller’s verbosity, with no help from director Segall. At times, their characters and the play come to a jarring halt as the playwright has his say. In smaller roles, J. Lewis Messina, BenGould, Robert Stephen Ryan and Stuart Lancaster give sympathetic portrayals as the utterly victimized gypsy, young boy, waiter and old Jew, respectively.
On the fascist side, Gil Johnson is quite believable as the crippled, alcoholic German major whose drinking gives him no solace from his degrading status of being forced off the battlefield to round up Jews. And Jackson Sleet is chilling as the soft-spoken but bloodless police captain who appears constantly amused by the protestations of the detainees.
The production values are first-rate. Gary Wissmann’s realistic set design offers a constant view of the steep stairway to the door to freedom and the all-too-easily accessed door to oblivion. D. Silvio Volonte’s lights and John Fisher’s sound design are unobtrusively effective. Diane Barkauskas’ prerecorded accordion work did much to set a proper mood of place and time.