note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Beverly Creasey
It’s my opinion, from having seen A SHAYNA MAIDEL a number of times that the play hinges on a strong performance in the role of the Holocaust survivor. If the actress can convey the unimaginable without ever describing details of the horror, then Barbara Lebow’s play succeeds in stirring us to the bone. The Hovey Players production (through May 17) soars because of the exquisite performance of Sonia Maslovskaya as the camp survivor who is reunited with her sister and father in America after the war. Lebow gently touches on issues like survivor guilt and sins of omission but they’re couched in a bittersweet story of renewal and hope. Maslovskaya proves the axiom that the eyes are the window to the soul.
The girls’ father (Joel Hersh) escaped Poland with his youngest daughter (Kris Reynolds) but did not send for his wife and remaining child before the Nazis invaded. Although the mother died in the camps, we meet her (Kimberly McClure) in flashback memories of the older sister. Through Maslovskaya’s touching imagination, we see her embrace her husband (Evan Bernstein) and her dearest friend (Kate Lovell). It’s a tour de force performance which will take your breath away.
Director Frank Moffett deftly navigates the play from the comic “fish out of water” scenes to the somber “list” scene where names of murdered relatives stand in for all the victims in the camps. From the gorgeous New York City apartment by Michelle Aguillon and Gabrielle Aguillon-Hatcher (she also performs in the prologue) to Kimmerie Jones’ lovely ‘40s costumes, the Hovey Players prove they’re a little theater which can compete in the big leagues.