Courtesy Found TheatreIn fairness, Hitler in Loveisn't your typical play. It's an attempt—I think—by playwright/director Cynthia Galles to show how everyone's least-favorite fhrer was just as fucked to the women in his life as he was to Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, magicians and the rest of Europe. Further to Galles' credit, she uses many interesting devices—film projections, shadow puppetry, masks, interpretative dancing—to tell the story. The subject matter—and the way she tries to execute it—is something I've never seen before.
And, Great Spirit willing, I never will again.
It's not just that this play is amateurish, unintentionally silly and confusing. (Just why do two actors, one of whom is three inches taller, play Hitler? And why do both wear material that looks like white pantyhose tightly stretched around their heads, with a shock of what looks like black kelp for hair and a cube of beef jerky for a mustache?) Far more egregious is that it says nothing about something so fascinating: the capacity of one flesh-and-blood human being to possess so much evil.
Maybe it got better after 60 minutes (when this carbon-based life form exercised his freedom of speech by bailing out), but I doubt it. Rather than this rambling, shoddy attempt to portray Hitler as—I think—a faceless, voiceless sadist and masochist, wouldn't it have been more instructive to show him as a real human who possessed something akin to love? To imagine a man capable of such unspeakable brutality as also capable of caring about another person is infinitely more chilling than this futile exercise in avant-retard theater.
What's truly horrifying is that we all contain a little piece of Hitler. Denying this by vilifying and dehumanizing its most perverse practitioner succeeds only in making him and his genocidal crusade less universal and less understandable. Hitler wasn't an anomaly of human nature; he washuman nature, twisted into its most atrocious visage. His face was our face, and a play like Hitler In Love can only work when reminding us of that awful fact.
HITLER IN LOVE AT THE FOUND THEATRE, 599 LONG BEACH BLVD., LONG BEACH, (562) 433-3363. FRI.-SAT., 8:30 P.M. THROUGH MARCH 19. $10.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events happening in the Orange County art and theater scene.