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W.S. Jenks & Son
Remaining Performances (tickets available here):
Saturday, July 18 at 2 p.m. Thursday, July 23 at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 25 at 6:45 p.m. Sunday, July 26 at 11:45 a.m.
They Say: What if Adolf Hitler was found not guilty of war crimes and strolled out of the courtroom a free man? Thanks to a scrappy defense lawyer, Hitler restarts his art career in Greenwich Village. Then things get a little crazy.
Morgan’s take: Playwright Stefan Stoerzinger takes a huge bite out of history, swallowing up and spitting out a complete rewrite of the 1940s. Its premise starts simple, relatively speaking, and multiplies into something more outrageous: Hitler (Andrew Adams), angry with himself for being too scared to commit suicide and his wife for actually doing it, is extradited to the United States and awaits trial for mass murder and art theft. He gets off, picks up a power-hungry, martini-drinking, femme fatale (Shira Hereld), starts painting again, runs for Senate in Wisconsin, and plans to invade South America.
The play relies heavily on caricatures of German culture (think Hitler’s famous ‘stache and infamous temper) and New York’s Greenwich Village art scene (pretentious collectors with big money and bigger boredom) which throws seriousness and nuance straight out the window. Then again, who would go to this show for those things?
Stoerzinger is clearly well-read and well-informed, juggling material about Chagall and Eva Braun in equal turns, but Artful Justice felt, at times, like he wanted to make sure we knew that as well as he does. The jokes verged on stale at times—America’s bureaucracy bogs down its own political process! PAC money will elect anyone who will lobby for their interests!—pandering to the pessimistic. But the play is undeniably smart, and though Stoerzinger’s material might be overwrought, its delivery is mostly fresh.
Adams’ Hitler is flamboyant and exaggerated; he could have tempered the crazed aggression with a more subtle seething anger, for reality’s sake, without sacrificing any laughs. The real star of this show is Bernie (Mark Mumm), Hitler’s Jewish lawyer who tackles the Brooklyn accent, nasal laugh, and screwball absurdity of the dynamic with ease.
See it if: You’ve got a hankering for history, politics, and art; you’ve never seen a performance in a hardware store; you like puns.
Skip it if: You hate humor delivered with a wink and an elbow in your side.