PostHeaderIcon WW II Separation Tale & 2018 Echoes

Today’s headlines scream of fearful border crossings and the separation of parents and children. Timeline Theatre, with the praiseworthy historical lens of    its productions, reminds us that such tragedies aren’t a new story. In fact, neither is the play.

A Shayna Maidel, by playwright Barbara Lebow, ran Off-Broadway from 1987-89 and continues to be produced in regional theaters and abroad. It has echoes of  President Trump’s disastrous border separation policy as it is about Hitler’s similar policy of Jewish families during World War II.

Lusia and Rose

Lusia and Rose

The play is set in 1946 in a New York City West Side tenement. Rose Weiss is visited by her domineering father who informs Rose that her sister, Lusia, is coming to America and he demands Rose host her in her small apartment.

Naturally, Rose who has made a new life in New York is upset. She doesn’t want to upend her life to house a sister who got left behind in Germany when Rose and her dad escaped the Nazis. The father will not brook any refusal. She must obey since Lusia is family.

The play really takes off with Lusia’s entrance. This young woman is deeply disoriented by the prosperous trappings of post-war America and the well-furnished apartment of a sister she never knew. For Lusia, the war is still vivid in her mind. What takes the play beyond the realm of melodrama is its deeply-affecting human story. We empathize with Lusia’s gripping struggle to cast off the horrors of her past as well as the sisters’ struggle to reconnect with one another.

I can’t say enough about the acting of the three main characters: Bri Sudia as Rose, Emily Berman as Lusia and Charles Stransky as the gruff Mordecai Weiss. They pulled me into the story and made me care. Kudos are also in order for director Vanessa Stalling who keeps the action flowing and the human drama intense. A Shayna Maidel lets early 1940/s family separations come alive with a reappearance in 2018 of the same heartbreak. Go see it!

A Shayna Maidel plays now at Timeline Theatre, 615 West Wellington Ave., through November 4th. For ticket and information, visit  or call the box office at 773/281-8463 ext. 6.

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