Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Blonde Poison begins with the whole performance space behind a heavy curtain that doubles as a metaphorical cloak. The cloak retracts to reveal Stella (Snedeker), an attractive and mature woman with the look of a femme fatale and the mission of a black widow spider. And as black widows go, Snedeker is clad in a red and black dress. Nicole DeCicco's apartment set is classic and sleek, with a beautiful chaise lounge and solid mahogany furniture. Stella is likable and charming; as she waits for a journalist to arrive to interview her, she keeps checking herself in a cloudy mirror. Does Stella have an unclear view of herself or do we? Perhaps it is both.
While Stella anxiously awaits the reporter, she begins to tell us her story. She looks back on the terrible things she claims she had to do to keep her family alive during World War II. A self-hating Jew with Aryan looks, Stella details how she brokered a deal with the Nazis to become a catcher of other Jews in exchange for the lives of her parents. Based on a true story, Stella's tale includes going into hiding, being tortured, having love affairs, having a child under harrowing conditions, being imprisoned, and choosing to become a Christian later in life. As Stella, Snedeker vacillates between seeking our compassion and sympathy for the life she's lived and being calculating, cunning and brazen. Given all of the circumstances and factors, it's up to you to do the final assessment.
Louw's play is a compelling, 90-minute (with no intermission), one-woman show that takes us on a sordid and dark journey through self-preservation and hate. If you find yourself taking tentative steps, it's with good reason. It's not easy or comfortable to examine evil. Under Keith Garsson's direction, Snedeker is amazing. She uses every part of the stage and interacts fabulously with David Hart's sound effects and Guy Haubrich's lighting design. These production elements are so vital that they almost function as supporting characters. Everything works cohesively to create a memorable show.
Yet, despite the skill of the cast and crew, what will stay with you the longest are the choices that Stella makes and what drives her to make them. How could a Jew ruthlessly seek out between 600 and 3000 other Jews, some of them former classmates, and send them to their deaths? Why continue even after the Nazis reneged on their deal and her parents were murdered? These are some of the questions you will contend with as you play judge, jury and executioner. Will you be merciful? Was she? You decide.
Primal Forces' Blonde Poison, through March 10, 2019, at the Sol Theatre, 3333 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton FL. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at www.primalforces.com for $30-$35 or by calling 866-811-4111.