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LA Theater Review

The Berlin Dig

John Stuercke's world-premiere play "The Berlin Dig" is an apparently earnest attempt to consider the world, or at least the warlike part of it, as if there were any other side to the constant battles, disagreements, flurries, jealousies, hatred, suspicion, murder, and corruption. At curtain up, Peter (Irwin Moskowitz), Rolf (Markus Obermeier), and Ali (Adam Shahinian) gather at the home of Dieter (Roy Allen) to mourn the death of his mother, apparently loved and deeply missed by all. All the men are aging, somber, and dressed in black shirts. Is that significant, or is it just to match the boring, dimly lit set, also black, except for five lethal-looking spades hung on the otherwise black wall (no credit)? The men mill about, drink wine, generally hover in ever-changing configurations, with little dramatic impact, speak of the dead, and mourn Dieter's mother's passing.

After a seemingly haphazard act, the men leave the stage and Dieter opens a disturbing envelope and reacts with horror and obvious pain. It seems that Dieter was adopted, and his real father was a Nazi stormtrooper—a proposition devoutly to be unwished. Dieter's long-lost cousin from America, also in black, shows up to mourn the death of his aunt. Positions are released that never before existed. Deiter's friends—men of a different generation, supporting their country's policies, as well as the war to end all wars—under the influence of a river of good German wine and beer blame Dieter's cousin, a too-young  Robert (Brett Fleisher), for the policies of George Bush. Robert holds his own as he supports the conflicts in the Middle East, Europe, Turkey, and everywhere else there are, or have been, conflicts—reflected by the spades on the wall.

Unfortunately, Stuercke's play is not very enlightening, as actors reflect on the positions taken, not as individuals but as if making position statements, in a not very interesting historical take on fairly recent history. Yawn.

Presented by and at the El Centro Theatre, 800 N. El Centro, Hollywood.  Feb. 4–Mar. 6. Fri.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. (800) 838-3006.

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