3269 Casitas Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Region: Northeast L.A.
A disturbing drama, executed by an accomplished ensemble under Matthew McCray's direction, Tadeusz Slobodzianek's Our Class deals with the alleged massacre of 1,600 Jews by their Polish neighbors in a small town in 1941. The multistranded plot builds around 10 individuals, five Jewish and five Catholic. It begins in their elementary school years, then presses forward in time, portraying how a few instigators help hatred, greed and cruelty to overtake the Polish townsfolk, culminating in acts of unimaginable cruelty against the Jewish minority. Casting a macroscopic net, Act 2 tracks the fate of both perpetrators and survivors as they struggle to get on with their lives using vengeance, repression and denial. One reason the play succeeds so well is that Slobodzianek's characters elude cliché. Heroism and wrongdoing manifest on both sides: A Polish woman of conscience (Melina Bielefelt) hides a former Jewish classmate (Kiff Scholl), a flawed narcissist who later becomes an Israeli interrogator who beats and tortures the accused in his charge. Despite its length and detail, the production stays compelling. Performances are top-notch, with Dan Via a standout as the town's crafty betrayer and twisted psychopath. As the Jew who escaped, Michael Nehring gives voice to the grief and consternation of appalled humanity.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: April 6. Continues through June 9, 2013