Fringeworthy

Hip Shot: Uniform

Gearbox

Remaining Performances:
Thursday, July 17 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, July 20 at 8:30 p.m.
Friday, July 25 at 10:15 p.m.
Sunday, July 27 at 12:30 p.m.

They say: Jacob is sweating. He has never shot anyone before. David grinds the man's face into the ground. Someone's blood is smeared across the Swastika emblazoned on the man's uniform. I can help you, he says, I can get you out.

Lindsey’s Take: You don't see a lot Fringe shows set during the Holocaust. It's a difficult and risky subject to approach, for a number of most self-evident reasons. Playwright Aaron Sulkin specifically notes that Uniform is neither a historical account nor an analysis, but a play about how people react in “a world of mistrust, hatred and conflict.” And yet the result seems optimistic, even if the ending is left open to interpretation.

The four characters are in a circular struggle of trust and fear throughout the piece. Three survivors trapped in a basement as Nazis sweep the town have captured a soldier in the wrong place at the wrong time. With his gun in their hands, he offers to help them escape. Their lives all depend on one another, as his comrades close in and eveyone's panic level rises.

Each deals with this in a different way; the officer, Erik, with indeterminate motives and life-saving offers; the young sister, Zsuzsanna ,in shrill arguments; Jacob in sullen anger with sunken, hungry eyes; and David with an unexpected compassion and misplaced politeness that reminds us what fear has done to the others. The characters barely trust each other, let alone a stranger, the enemy.

Eric Schlein is likable and honest in the role of David, even when his behavior in almost unbelievable under the circumstances. Director Alec Henneberger and playwright Sulkin’s suspenseful tale offers an almost hopeful glimpse into humanity, perhaps naively — though one moment stood out particularly well. The three holdouts discuss what they’ll do if they manage to escape with the officer’s help — primarily ”eat, and eat, and eat.” From across the room, where he's still being held at gunpoint, the solider says, “Me, too.”

See it if: You can still see the best in others.
Skip it if: You have a suspicion you must be wrong whenever you do.

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