Past crimes, the fine line between guilt and innocence and memories of the Holocaust are examined in Jeffrey Sweet's new political drama, The Action Against Sol Schumann, getting its world premiere — opening March 26 — at the Victory Gardens Mainstage in Chicago.
The new play concerns charges brought against a Brooklyn Orthodox Jew by the U.S. Office of Special Investigations. His family is shocked by the allegations against Sol, a Holocaust survivor. Sons Michael (who is assimilated) and Aaron (active in Jewish causes) have differing responses.
"After years of insisting that people must be responsible for their actions, [Aaron] finds it inconceivable that he is supporting a father whose defense is based on a conflicting premise," according to production notes. "And the consequences, for everyone, are devastating."
Victory Gardens artistic director Dennis Zacek stages The Action Against Sol Schumann, which was workshopped in fall 2000 at VGT with support from the National Foundation of Jewish Culture. Previews began March 16. Performances continue to April 22.
* The cast includes Roslyn Alexander, Kati Brazda, Melissa Carlson, Anthony Fleming III, Eli Goodman, Bernie Landis, Amy Ludwig and Robert K. Johansen.
Playwright Sweet's most recent Victory Gardens debut, the dramatic comedy, Bluff, was named one of the best plays of 1999 by the Chicago Tribune. The previous year, Sweet's small-town drama, Flyovers, starring William Petersen, won the Jeff Award for Best New Play. Sweet is a founding member of the Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble. His other plays include Porch, Ties, The Value of Names and With and Without. He is also the author of the popular book, "The Dramatist's Toolkit," cherished by stage writers.
Tickets are $20-$23 for previews, $28-$33 for the regular run. Victory Gardens Theater, devoted to new works since 1974, is at in the heart of Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue. For information, call (773) 871-3000 or visit the website at www.victorygardens.org.
— By Kenneth Jones