Patinkin's New Compulsion

PlayBlog   Patinkin's New Compulsion
Compulsion was the name of Meyer Levin's 1956 novel and 1957 play, which was suggested by the Leopold and Loeb thrill-killing case. Now, it is the title of a new play by Rinne Groff, and the topic is Levin himself.

Levin, who brought the existence of Anne Frank's diary to public attention and battled the rest of his life to bring it farther — into a play and film. (Instead, the husband-and-wife writing team of Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich won the Tony and the Pulitzer Prize for the play and did the screenplay.)

"He even wound up suing Otto Frank," noted Mandy Patinkin, who will play the Levin-like character when the play premieres Jan. 29 at Yale Repertory Theatre.

The Public's Oskar Eustis, who is directing and co-producing the play with Berkeley Rep, said it will then play Berkeley and he will bring it home to The Public after that.

"Well, you know how I feel about Rinne Groff," remarked Eustis, who helmed her The Ruby Sunrise shortly after beginning his reign as The Public's artistic director. "I think she's really found a fantastic subject in Levin, who spent the last 30 years of his life, trying to get his adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank seen on stage. She takes his obsession and uses it as a prism with which to understand an artist's obsession — but, even more than that, a response to the Holocaust that is as profound as it is theatrical. It's really, I think, a beautiful play."

Patinkin's wife, actress-playwright Kathryn Grody, is also angling for a space at The Public where her autobiographical one-woman, show A Mom's Life, had a nice run in 1990. "This is Mom's Life: 2," she said. "I call it Falling Apart Together. I just read the sequel for Oskar, and I'm doing a few more readings."

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