CHICAGO READER:

Doug Wright's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama tells the complex and fascinating story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a Berlin transvestite who survived both the Nazi and Communist regimes, and Wright himself, a gay American playwright who interviewed von Mahlsdorf over the course of a decade in order to write about her. After the reunification of Germany, von Mahlsdorf was honored for having preserved a slice of pre-Hitler culture in her Grunderzeit Museum, a mansion loaded with antiques and memorabilia. But her reputation crumbled under allegations that she'd been an informer for East Germany's secret police. The crux of the narrative is Wright's obsession with von Mahlsdorf's iconic status--and uncertain credibility. To dramatize this dilemma, both characters (as well as several others) are portrayed by one actor. In the Bohemian Theatre Ensemble production directed by Stephen M. Genovese and Peter Marston Sullivan, it's an assured and precise Peter Robel, cleverly clad by costume designer Emma Weber in a sexually ambiguous ensemble. John Zuiker's ingenious set recreates the Grunderzeit Museum as a dreamlike space decorated with doll-house furniture--at once Charlotte's sanctuary and her prison.                                                                               --Albert Williams

© 2017 EMMA WEBER

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