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Review of play The Interview at Willow Theatre in Boca Raton

“The Interview” is like a small blade inserted in the ribs. It takes a second or two to realize you’ve been mortally wounded, thanks to the gentle-but-keep-it-moving direction by Genie Croft.

The drama — with dry, bitter humor layered in — by Faye Sholiton is being presented by the Women’s Theatre Project in the Willow Theatre at Sugar Sand Park in Boca Raton.

“The Interview” is the deeply moving story of Bracha Weissman, a Holocaust survivor played by Harriet Oser. Even before she answers the door to let in her interviewer, Ann Meshenberg, played by Patti Gardner, we can tell that Bracha is tightly wound. Ann is there for the pre-interview to document the horrific historical event, which has poisoned Bracha’s relationship with her estranged daughter, Rifka, played by Irene Adjan.

“It may awaken a lot of memories,” Ann warns.

“They were never asleep,” Bracha snaps.

Sholiton’s script doesn’t take many missteps, drawing as it does from her real-life experiences as an interviewer for the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. This production gets almost everything right: the set by Sean McClelland, the costumes by Alberto Arroyo, the lighting by Christina Lauar and the sound by David Hart.

The acting, meanwhile, is subtle and thoughtful, smoothing over the few bumps and overtly manipulative spots in the show.

But it is Bracha who is the play’s gravitational center. Everything tilts toward her. When we see Rifka high upstage behind a scrim, it’s as if she is a ghost from a blurrily remembered past — instead of a frustrated family member who moved to the West Coast to put some distance between her and her haunted mother. And Oser is more than up to the challenge, holding the play gently in her beautifully sculpted hands.

Of course, they’ve had practice. All three actresses were in a 2009 production by the Women’s Theatre Project. Chris McDonald, playing a wet-behind-the-ears videographer in the second act, is the only newcomer.

“The Interview” by the Women’s Theatre Project runs through Jan. 20 at the Willow Theatre at Sugar Sand Park in Boca Raton (300 S. Military Trail). Performances take place 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with 2 p.m. matinees Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets cost $25. Call 561-347-3948 or go to WillowTheatre.org.

Copyright © 2015, South Florida
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