Incident At Vichy
By Arthur Miller
A L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Ben Diskin, Arye Gross, Jamie Hanes, Andrew Hawkes, Gregory Itzin, Robert Lesser, Jon Matthews, Lawrence Pressman, Raphael Sbarge, Armin Shimerman and Shahar Sorek
LA Theatre Works (2002)
Genre: Theatrical Play, Fiction
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - June 30, 2010
This play by Arthur Miller, one of the foremost American playwrights, tells about men who were snatched off the streets and dragged to a room in Vichy, France, to be interrogated in 1942 to find out if they are Jewish.
Only three of the men turn out not to be Jewish, a pompous businessman, a thieving gypsy, and an Austrian prince who was picked up because he had an accent. The prince is very intelligent, strongly anti-Nazi, and wept when his Jewish servants were arrested by the Nazis.
There is also a fearful Marxist, a bearded, sick, elderly man who looks Jewish, an actor who had a chance to escape but wanted to stay to act, a waiter, an artist, a psychiatrist who comments on the lives of the others, and a fifteen year old boy.
There is a German major among the interrogators who is strongly opposed to what is happening, but who sees no way, at least until the end of the play, how he can oppose the majority.
The prisoners learn about the death trains and the murders in furnaces in the concentration camps. Some of them believe it, others say they do not. Yet it is clear that this is only wishful thinking.
Miller raises many issues such as the existence of harsh discriminatory practices in every culture that are bad even though not as bad as those of the Nazis. He ends his play by dramatically answering the question, is the prince somehow also to blame for the Nazi acts?
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.