‘The Red Dress’ – A World Premiere at The Odyssey Theatre In Los Angeles
Last weekend we were treated to a compelling and thought-provoking play at the Odyssey Theatre in LA. ‘The Red Dress’ by Tania Wisbar left us thinking and drawing parallels to the times we live in today.
‘The Red Dress’, a romantic drama set in Berlin, explores the intersection of politics and art during the years between the Treaty of Versailles and the rise of Fascism (1924-1936).
Alexandra Schiele (Laura Liguori) is a famous film actress from a prominent Jewish family who falls in love with a down-on-his-luck World War I vet, Franz Weitrek (J.B. Waterman). Franz is able to parlay his wife’s connections into work as a film director. But when his career takes off making Nazi propaganda films, his wife suddenly becomes a liability. Also in the cast are Rebecca Larsen, Shanti Reinhardt and Dylan Wittrock. Kiff Scholl directs.
The play intelligently taps into personal emotions and tensions caused by the political and social changes during the turbulent years before the rise of Nazism. It touches on the Eugenics Movement as well as some of the horrific actions the National Socialist Party of Hitler was known for. The excellent cast helps with the intensity of some scenes to create suspense throughout the whole play. The scenes spanning quite a few years in history are pulled together by sequences of historical movies and music from the particular eras.
The historical setting of ‘The Red Dress’ around the time of Hitler’s rising might imply a story we all know only too well. Yes, we have heard similar stories before, and, true, we learned about Hitler in school and watched this dark part of history on TV and the movies.
Yet, this play’s story is different! It explores and tries to make sense of why Germany lost its way. It’s different than anything you’ve read because experiencing the play unfold in front of your eyes in a small theatre setting, where one is intimately connected with the actors and their fate, brings about quite a different dimension to it all. The story, yet perhaps not entirely new, brings forth several new facets and lets us rediscover and see many ‘known’ facts from a different angle. Suddenly an ‘old’ story in many ways doesn’t feel outdated anymore.
In fact, the playwright Tania Wisbar leaves her audience with a message of urgency and relevance for today. One can’t shake off some of the lines just heard during the play. They seem to claim validation also in the period of history we are living in. Wisbar might want to remind us that something like we just saw on stage, could happen again if we are not vigilant enough.
Tania Wisbar, who was inspired by her own family history to write ‘The Red Dress’, succeeded in creating a very timely piece considering the uprising of recent nationalist right-wing movements all over the world.
Performances of ‘The Red Dress’, a world premiere presented by Argyle Road Productions, take place Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., from Oct. 28 through Nov. 19.
All tickets are $30 (reserved seating). The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, (323) 960-5521 or go to www.Plays411.com/reddress
Photo Credit: Laura Liguori (Alexandra Schiele) and Dylan Wittrock (Officer Dieter Keller) – Photo by Ed Krieger Image: Odyssey Theatre Los Angeles