REVIEW: “Some People Hear Thunder” @ Capital Rep [Berkshire on Stage]

(Photo by Douglas C. Liebig)

Review by Barbara Waldinger

Some People Hear Thunder, a musical set in the midst of the Armenian genocide, purports to be something else. The director and star, Kevin McGuire, characterizes it as a “powerful musical love story,” and his co-star Joan Hess, agrees that it is a “triumphant human story” that is decidedly not about the genocide. But this production contradicts their protests, and that is not a bad thing.

Currently on the boards at Albany’s Capital Repertory Theatre, the play was written by Gerson H. Smoger, a human rights lawyer, based on the 1916 recollections of Rev. Dikran Andreasian, an Armenian who managed to survive the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman government starting in 1915. Tens of thousands were deported, driven hundreds of miles on forced death marches with no food or water. The Ottoman army used the occasion of World War I to decimate their civilian Armenian population, plundering their material wealth and expropriating all of their properties.

To this day, Turkey dismisses the charge of genocide and denies that the deportations and atrocities were part of a deliberate plan to exterminate the Armenians. The U.S. initially refused to get involved as part of our World War I neutrality and has still not referred to the episode as genocide, out of concern for alienating Turkey, a NATO ally and partner in fighting Middle East terrorism. For many years Turkey successfully waged a well-organized campaign to discredit any attempt to recognize the genocide in films, but recently “The Promise,” a film about these events, was able to secure financing outside of Hollywood.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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