Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

A Flag is Born

Also see Tracy's review of Elegies: A Song Cycle and Children of Eden

Annie Houston and
Joel Snyder

Many people associate Ben Hecht with the well-known plays he co-created with Charles MacArthur. The Front Page gained notice on stage as well as screen and their comedy Twentieth Century is currently enjoying a revival on the great white way. However, Hecht's A Flag is Born is a completely different animal.

Produced by American Century Theater, A Flag is Born hasn't been produced in 56 years. The piece centers on the fight for a Jewish homeland. It is Hecht's theatrical call to arms for the Jews of the world and it strives to educate the world itself about the plight of the Jews during and after the Holocaust.

Since the time that the play was first produced, Israel has been created. Therefore, the show feels very dated in places. However, as much as things change, they also stay the same and this play illustrates that. Overall, it sheds light on some very compelling points about the state of humanity that can still be made today. It also serves as a reminder of the horrors of this terrible time in history. Hecht's words are eloquent but there are moments where he seems to get hung up on the same idea over and over again and the show doesn't move. The phrase, "less is more," certainly applies here.

Hecht's message is communicated primarily by Tevya, a survivor who is traveling with his wife Zelda in search of Palestine. They are old, sick and only have each other until they come across a survivor named David. The young and angry David is searching for Palestine as well.

Director Steven Scott Mazzola makes some very good choices but in the end the play is uneven. Joel Snyder as Tevya is a bit too robust for a survivor. Yet, he does display a few fine moments. Keith Warren gives a soulless performance as David. There are absolutely no nuances in his portrayal. The most intriguing actor on the stage is Annie Houston as Zelda. She truly captures the essence of this character's despair.

The lighting design by Marianne Meadows is quite effective in combination with Beth Baldwin's minimalist set design. Cynthia Abel's costumes are fine in appearance but are not always consistent with the characters. However, Lynnie Raybuck's oversized puppets are outstanding and add much to the piece.

A Flag is Born caused a lot of controversy in its day. Some may say it is propaganda. Others may say it just reflects history. Whatever the consensus may be, there is no denying that it projects a powerful message. A Flag is Born runs at Gunston Theater II in Arlington, Virginia through April 24th.

American Century Theater
A Flag is Born
March 25th —April 24th
By Ben Hecht
Directed by Steven Scott Mazzola
The Gunston Arts Center, Theater II
2700 S. Lang Street
Arlington, VA 22206
Ticket Information: 703-553-8782 or

Cast List

Tevya: Joel Snyder
Zelda: Annie Houston
David: Keith Warren
Supplicants: Lucinda Hart-Gonzalez, Jon Reynolds, Steven Schatzow
Saul: Shane Wallis
David, a singer: Andy Tonken, Kerry Stinson
Solomon: Darius Suziedelis
France: Sara Barker
England: Rebecca Dreyfuss
Russia: Katya Falikova
USA: Genevieve James

Photo: Jeff Bell

-- Tracy Lyon

Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.

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