The Good German

A thoughtful, although sometimes scattered, look at how regular Germans became hate-mongers in the '40s

Cursed with the title of a recent Steven Soderbergh/George Clooney movie that it has nothing to do with, this production is otherwise blessed with a strong cast and a heady examination of what would drive 1940s Germans to exterminate the Jews in their midst. Playwright David Wiltse packs a lot of ideas into his two-hour play, almost all of them provocative and well-written, and grounded in the characters caught up in the inhumanity of war. But at times so many ideas are being debated and discussed that subtext is sacrificed for pontification. In addition, the huge time leap between the first and second acts deprives us of seeing the many subtle, fatal ways in which these characters are transformed by four years of war. Yet it is a rare treat in the liberal lockstep of the Bay Area to see an unflinching and compassionate examination of what would compel “good” people to act out of hate and fear. — Molly Rhodes

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