By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Mee’s play and Schweizer’s production, however, slump in the excessive duration of the speeches and in the overdone slapstick of the comedy, as though Mee fears that someone in the audience may have missed a point. The early moment when the Berliner Ensemble and insurgent students break into a dance production number powered by the Village People’s “YMCA” is clever and unexpected — but do we really have to sit through the entire song? And, on at least two occasions, he gives Dulle Griet heaping mouthfuls of sentimental mush to chew on — just so it can all be dismissed by Pamela’s quips.
Likewise, MÃ¼ller’s big speech apologizing for his languid cooperation with East Germany’s secret police may be snappy and, as delivered by Fleck, coy enough to make us ignore the fact that the needles on our bullshit detectors are spinning off their dials. (His defense has more than a whiff of Nuremberg about it.) But in the end, it really is a big speech.
George Orwell once pointed out the self-delusionary tone of a rumor — spread among Britain’s left — that a Kremlin team of historians was secretly compiling a truly objective history of the Soviet Union, a record that would admit the regime’s mistakes and atrocities, and that would be released publicly sometime in the future, when the USSR was more politically secure. MÃ¼ller’s post-Wall apologia in The Berlin Circle hardly sets the record straight about East Germany, but it does reveal the role of the conflicted artist in a modern police state. In the end, the Brecht lines that best capture the current conditions of the now-forgotten and very needy East Germans are perhaps not found in The Caucasian Chalk Circle but in The Threepenny Opera:
For the ones they are in darkness
And the others are in light.
And you see the ones in brightness
Those in darkness drop from sight.THE BERLIN CIRCLE | By CHARLES L. MEE At the EVIDENCE ROOM, 2220 Beverly Blvd., Echo Park | Through June 25