- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 15, 2002

''Peter & the Wolf" unsuccessfully attempts to examine the choices of Peter Sichrovsky, a Jew who becomes general-secretary of the far-right Austrian Freedom Party.

The play, which is Ari Roth's sequel to "Born Guilty," is being staged by Theater J through July 14.

"Peter & the Wolf" should not be seen without first seeing "Born Guilty," with which it is playing in repertory. The playwright assumes that the audience is already familiar with the first show and its characters. In fact, the opening scene of "Peter & the Wolf" starts with a discussion after "Born Guilty" has been presented.

A panel debates the motives of the characters and their attitudes, especially that of Stefanie (Michelle Shupe). If one has not seen the prior play, one would never understand that Stefanie leaned toward a Nazi agenda.

"Born Guilty" is based on an oral history by Mr. Sichrovsky, who interviewed the children of Nazis. It presented broad themes; "Peter & the Wolf" is more narrow.

Mr. Roth has made this play more like a therapy session for his angst rather than a form of entertainment. This is even more apparent because Mr. Roth includes himself as the character of the Adapter (actually played by Christopher Lane).

Although Mr. Roth and others may question Sichrovsky's decision to move to the right, the play isn't general enough for an outsider. A good writer should tap into the overall human experience. For instance, the audience didn't even know when to clap at the end of the first act.

Moreover, Mr. Roth never really gives the audience an answer as to why Sichrovsky decided to join the Austrian Freedom Party. The only conclusion he draws is that people change, which he illustrates by bringing the character of Stefanie back at the end of the play as a waitress.

Stefanie is furious that the Adapter is having lunch with Sichrovsky.

She has become very outspoken about her stance against Nazi ideology. She sees Sichrovsky as a traitor because of his alliance with extremist Joerg Haider.

This is ironic considering that Stefanie verbally attacked Sichrovsky for his Jewish beliefs during "Born Guilty."

Mr. Roth also alludes to how Sichrovsky might have joined the Freedom Party so that he could change it from the inside. He never illustrates how Sichrovsky has done this.


*1/2

WHAT: "Peter & the Wolf"

WHERE: Theater J, 1529 16th Street NW

WHEN: In repertory with "Born Guilty," through July 14

TICKETS: $18 to $30

PHONE: 800/494-TIXS


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