Mala Review - The Freedom to Soar

The Complex Ruby Theater in Hollywood is the ideal setting for MAL A—previously a lauded workshop production ( Last Lions Productions).  Due to the close proximity of the stage, viewers are apt to feel that they themselves, are prisoners behind the merciless walls of Auschwitz.  The reenactments transcend beyond the stage, and the experience surpasses the realm of mere voyeurism for the onlookers.



MALA is Max Leavitt’s (Screenwriter/Director/Actor) startling play produced by Last Lion Productions.  The vehicle is based on the true story of Mala Zimetbaum, a Jewish woman who escaped from Auschwitz with her lover, Edek Galinski, in June 1944.  This production unfolds with a sincere approach that carefully portrays the relationship that burgeoned behind the sprawling barbed wire.  Mala ( Copper Harris) is characterized as being a highly intelligent woman (multilingual) who is deported; and left to rely solely on her wits and her drive to survive.  She encounters an attractive, Polish soldier, Edek ( Nicholas Vitulli), and there love blossoms in the midst of madness: “Love is like a weed.  It can grow anywhere, even in Hell (Auschwitz).”  The aforementioned sentiment becomes an underlying mantra of the production, fuelling the narrative along on unseen tracks.


Work Makes (One) Free


As Mala, Cooper Harris delivers a tender performance that is both practical and selfless.  Harris captures the essence of a woman who was both an intellectual and trusted confidante; and willing to act against the demoralizing system set forth by her captors.

Max Leavitt shines in his role as fellow prisoner and compatriot to Edek, Elias Lindzin.  He also acts as a narrator of sorts, who airs the desires and dissastifactions of being young and incarcerated unjustly.



Additionally, Heather Kirkland Howe (Mandel, Mother) delivers a sinister performance as Commandant Mandel who derives immense pleasure in exacting violent measures against anyone who comes across her path. She evokes the unflinching cruelty that was innate within all administrative personnel of the Reich. 

The rest of the cast is noteworthy as well.  Nicholas Vitulli plays Edek Galinski/Anton Vochek; and Karen Jean Olds is Cyla Cybulska—Mala’s childhood rival and fellow prisoner; Alex Dvorak (Hans Bohm, Father, Gestapo Officer, and others); Nicholas Tucci (Tomasz Przewodnik, Jerzy Swolkin, and others); and Murielle Zuker (Giza Wiesblum, Else Cybulska, and others).  The performances are authentic, and do not veer into the sphere of melodrama.



Ultimately, this production is thought-provoking and piercing; and renders a plethora of valuable messages to viewers.  Above all else, “Never Again!,” rings most prominent to the heart and mind. 

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