November 25, 2011
Reviewed by Paula Citron
Tarragon Theatre/Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company
Written by Hannah Moscovitch
Directed by Alisa Palmer
Performed by Peter Hutt, Kelli Fox, Amy Rutherford, Emma Burke-Kleinman, Katie Frances Cohen, Mark Correia and Elliott Larson
Nov. 8 to Dec. 18, 2011
For her latest play, The Children’s Republic, Hannah Moscovitch has chosen a heart-breaking subject.
Janusz Korczak was a prominent Polish-Jewish doctor and educator, who with his assistant, Stefa Wilczynska, went to his death in a Nazi concentration camp, rather than abandon his 200 Jewish orphans.
The first act demonstrates Korczak’s enlightened methods of empowering children. The second act is their lives in the Warsaw Ghetto. The focus is on Korczak’s relationships with four difficult children.
Moscovitch builds her play through a series of short scenes, and a minimum of dialogue. Alisa Palmer has directed with sympathy and economy, but there are perhaps a bit too many portentous pauses.
The excellent Peter Hutt as Korczak is wise and compassionate, while Kelli Fox is splendid as his crusty assistant. The four youngsters who play the children help to carry the show.
The play is at once both poignant and uplifting.
The Children’s Republic continues at the Tarragon Theatre until Dec. 18.