Samantha Rahn as the Girl, above.
Francisco Reyes as the Commandant
A field of brown leaves. The production of Juan Mayorga's "Way to Heaven" at Teatro Circulo is simple, riveting and haunting. At once exploring the Holocaust, ethics and personal responsibility, and the nature of art, philosophy and theater, the simple staging and powerful, understated performances will leave an impression that is difficult to forget. Inspired by the true story of the concentration camp at Theresienstadt, where the Nazis created a faux village to attempt to outwit the Red Cross inspectors, the play by Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga definitely draws you in. The proximity of the actors and their powerful performances, in this theater-in-the-round setting is compelling and unsettling.
Directed by Matthew Earnest, memorable performances by Shawn Parr as the Red Cross Representative, Mark Farr, as the Gershom, Beth Baker (She# 2), Sal Bardo (Boy #1), Jessica Amara Beaudry (She), Ben Elgaret (Boy#3) Trey Gerrald (Boy #2), and Trae Hicks (He). Outstanding in a smaller but pivotal role is Samantha Rahn (as The Girl). Francisco Reyes (The Commandant) is suitably commanding, powerful, sensitive and loathesome, as he directs the "players" in this life or death performance. Mr. Reyes' presence and performance of a strutting, cajoling, argumentative, sensitive and artistic Nazi -- but a Nazi nevetheless-- will stay with you, as will the moral struggles and confusion faced by the other characters caught in the Nazi's maelstrom of pure evil. Previously performed on the London stage, and in NYC, this repeat performance ends August 23. Teatro Circulo, 64 East 4th Street, NYC. For more information: