The Puppetmaster of Lodz 

Hitler's secret? Volume. He was the Henry Ford of genocide, using economies of scale to answer the Jewish question with utmost efficiency. Which may be why Holocaust plays are always so intimate, so tightly focused on a single character: the very extravagance of such an approach--millions of stories told one at a time!--constitutes a long, slow rebuke. In Gilles Segal's play, it's Finkelbaum's turn. A traumatized survivor of Birkenau, Finkelbaum works so hard at denial that he never leaves the flat he shares with a life-size puppet/effigy of his dead wife. Segal has nothing new to say, really; his narrative gambits are conventional, his insights familiar. What makes this piece compelling is the room it allows Larry Neumann Jr. simply to inhabit Finkelbaum inhabiting his flat--telling his loving, painful tale with the help of Michael Montenegro's miraculous rag-and-wire puppets. a Through 7/8: Tue 7:30 PM, Wed-Fri 8 PM, Sat 4 and 8 PM, Sun 2:30 and 6 PM, Wed 4/18, 2 and 8 PM, Writers' Theatre, Books on Vernon, 664 Vernon, Glencoe, 847-242-6000, $40-$58.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Brosilow.

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