Total Verrückt! Encore

Friday night my husband and I went to Boston to see Joanna Caplan’s premier performance of Total Verrückt! at the Charlestown Working Theater. This is a one-woman show that was conceived, created and performed by Joanna. It portrays the “totally crazy” circumstances of the German-Jewish former stars of the Weimar Republic that found themselves in the Nazi transit camp of Westerbork. After the show there was a discussion let by Ian Thal (see his write-up of the show). Total Verruckt doll scene I was especially struck by one simple scene of the show. We see Joanna crouching under the wooden structure that evokes both the guard tower along the fence perimeter and the rows of triple-decker bunks in the barracks. She takes her doll out of its hiding place and puts it on the floor among hastily placed blocks of wood. She does this so quickly it seems to be random. I think of the possibility of my mother at nine years old playing with her doll and using blocks of discarded wood to make a doll house or doll’s furniture. Then, as the show progresses I have time to reflect on the scene and I see what Joanna has created. Here, behind the barbed wire on the stage, she has made a replica of the camp. boulevard misery On one side of the train tracks the blocks represent the barracks and on the other side are the various buildings in which the inmates were sent to work. The doll is at one end of the Boulevard of Misères, the main road of the camp. She foreshadows the fate of Joanna’s characters on their way to the train platform, presumably to be transported to Auschwitz. It is an eerie image that remains when the show is over.

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