THEATER REVIEW: “Paris Time” @ Capital Repertory Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Roseann Cane
Photograph by Richard Lovrich
In the Paris Time playbill, Production Dramaturge Teresa Campbell quotes an article from The Washington Post: “France is home to the largest Jewish community in Europe, and its most troubled. A wave of anti-Semitic violence in recent years has shaken Jews in the country to the point where growing numbers no longer see a future here… In 2015, approximately 8,000 French Jews abandoned France for Israel – a record number that has grown with each passing year.”
Not only does this virulent anti-Semitism bear chilling parallels to the round-up and extermination of European (including Parisian) Jews circa World War II, it is sadly reminiscent of U.S. brutality during that time, when Japanese-Americans were forced to live in internment camps. Today, not only in Europe, but in the United States, the steady rise of xenophobia and related hate crimes against those who are “different” should serve as a warning of what happens when the government looks the other way, or even, some would say, cultivates, violent acts that stem from bigotry.
Playwright Steven Peterson takes a hard look at contemporary French anti-Semitism in Paris Time, a world premiere currently at Albany’s Capital Repertory Theatre. Charlie (Marcel Jeannin), an American executive working in his company’s Paris branch, and his wife, Deborah (Kelly Wolf), an attorney who has put her career on hold to live abroad with Charlie, are facing a marital crisis. Reina (Jenny Ashman), a young Jewish woman who works for Charlie’s company, becomes a target of several acts of pointedly anti-Semitic vandalism committed by someone who clearly works for the same corporation. Deborah, who is also Jewish, becomes concerned for Reina’s safety, and urges Charlie to take steps to confront the vandals.