Salome Jens Stars in “Blond Poison” on Stage at Theatre 40

 

 

Miss Salome Jens could be a poster girl for the wonderful, magical world of theatre.  Trained at Northwestern University, she continued her acting technique studies with two famed New York teachers – Herbert Berghof and Lee Strasberg, eventually earning a lifetime member status of his iconic Actors Studio, which spawned some of the greatest actors to grace the American stage or screen.  Among the notables are Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, James Dean, Andy Garcia, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robert Duvall, Bradley Cooper, and countless others.


Theatrically trained by master teachers Herbert Berghof and Lee Strasberg, Salome Jens can serve any material well – from the classics to modern works. Courtesy Photo

Miss Jens’ technique training has served her well as she is equally at home in works ranging from the classics, such as Moliere’s Tartuffe,to timeless chestnuts such as Jean Genet’s The Balcony, Arthur Miller’s After the Fall, and Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms and A Moon for the Misbegotten This is just a sampling of her long list of credits for which she has racked up numerous awards.  Her broad theatrical background more than amply prepared her to play the difficult role of Stella Goldschlag in the U.S. Premiere of Gail Louw’s Blond Poison, based on the life of this notorious informant for the Gestapo. 


Salome Jens gives a riveting performance as Stella Goldschlag, a Jewish informant for the Gestapo during World War II. Photo: Ed Krieger

Directed by award-winning director Jules Aaron, Miss Jens fills the stage with her magnetic presence from the moment she makes her entrance reading a letter.  She nervously makes sure everything is in place in her well-designed flat by Jeff G. Rack, which is enhanced by Ric Zimmerman’s lighting design, and Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski’s sound track. 

 

Sylvia is living in a small town outside of Berlin and is expecting a visitor.  In the ensuing 80-minute monologue, through a stream of consciousness, she retells her story in minute detail, at times trying to justify her unspeakable acts.  Walking back through her life, Stella vividly recalls details about her past, directing some of her ramblings to unseen people such as “Mutter,” (mother in German). She boasts that she was rich, stunning blond, blue-eyed young woman who very easily passed for an Aryan and many men fell in love with her because of her striking beauty.   In between her recollections, Stella keeps checking her watch.  


During Kristallnacht, dozens of synagogues were destroyed in Nazi Germany and Austria. Courtesy Photo

A German couple seems amused at observing one of the hundreds smashed storefront windows owned by Jews. Courtesy Photo

She recalls the infamous “Kristallnacht,” or “Night of Broken Glass,” when in a two-day period, throughout Nazi Germany and Austria, hundreds of synagogues were burned, thousands of Jewish businesses were trashed and looted, dozens of Jewish people were killed, and Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, schools, and homes were looted or destroyed.  

 

From time to time the narrative gets a little fuzzy but it appears that after that infamous attack against Jews, Sylvia realizes how much danger she is in, eventually wears the yellow Star of David patch, finds a hiding place in a cellar, and is betrayed by her friend Angelica, who is a “catcher” for the GestapoSylvia comments, “I should have wondered why she was so fat.”  She is placed in solitary confinement, “Where my white teeth lost their luster.” After being tortured, she finally relents and gives up the names of her Jewish friends and acquaintances.  Also, somewhere along the way she had has a baby girl, which is taken away from her.   


As a young, beautiful woman, Stella used her "Aryan" looks to avoid being sent to a concentration camp. Photo: Ed Krieger

Sylvia ruminates that her beauty was her ticket to avoid being sent to a concentration camp.  She survived the Holocaust by becoming a “Greifer,” an informant for the Gestapo, getting paid for each Jew she turned in, which numbered in the thousands.   Despite Sylvia being a collaborator, her parents did not receive special treatment and were sent to a concentration camp where they were murdered.*

 

The now aging beauty reveals and more about herself and the lovers and husbands who were drawn to her. As the evening progresses, it becomes clear that this is a woman in search of redemption.   She finally reads out loud the letter she entered with at the beginning of the play, the contents of which are shocking and a summary of how someone she knows feels about her.

 

Although Jens does a remarkable acting job, there are problems within the material with some unclear transitions as well as perhaps some directorial choices.  In a monologue, the challenge becomes one of focus and there were definitely moments that talking to an empty chaise lounge or the air didn’t quite work.  There were opportunities in the narrative to break the fourth wall, which could have served to sharpen the focus.   That said, any acting student would benefit from Jens’ extraordinary use of her physical instrument, including the use of sense memory in endowing props, such as a picture frame or a scarf, with very special personal meaning, as well as her moment-to-moment mercurial emotional transitions.   It is worth seeing this play to experience the work of a theatrical icon.

  

*According to historic records, after the war Stella Goldschlag was arrested and tried by the Soviets for being a Nazi collaborator and was sentenced to ten years in a detention camp.  Following her release, she was tried again in Berlin but was credited with time served in a Soviet prison.  She converted to Christianity and in 1944 committed suicide by jumping out of the window of her flat.

 

Theatre 40

Reuben Cordova Theatre

241 S. Moreno Drive

Beverly Hills, CA 90212

 

Run:  Mondays:  8:00 pm 

           Thursdays – Saturdays:  8:00pm

            Saturdays:  5:00 & 8:00 pm 

            Sundays:     2:00 pm

Tickets:  $25 

                  310.364.0535 or

 HYPERLINK "http://www.theatre40.org" www.theatre40.org

Closing Date:  January 26, 2015                 

 

 

 

Top of Page

lasplash.com
Join Splash Magazines

Feature Article

Tempflow™ and Tempur-Pedic® Reviews - What 35 Hours of Research Uncovered

Want Your Business to Male a Splash
<!-- #wrapper -->