Monday, April 8, 2013

CONVICTION • New Jewish Theatre

This engrossing one-act, one-man show covers a lot of ground.  Adapted from the novel “Confession” by Yonatan Ben Nachum, it's based on a true story centering around Andrés Gonzalez, a fifteenth century priest during the time of the Spanish Inquisition.

It begins at the Spanish National Archives in the 1960's, where an interrogation is taking place.  There's been some Inquisition files concerning Gonzalez -- trying to be smuggled out by a man who had been working on a Spanish genealogy project.  We never see who is being interrogated, only the interrogator (Ami Dayan), the manager of the National Archives.

Ami Dayan
Photo credit: John Lamb
After awhile, the interrogator begins to read from the files -- a confession written by Andrés Gonzalez himself, and once our interest is piqued, we flashback to fifteenth century Spain where Gonzalez (again, Ami Dayan), a Jewish man who converted and became a priest, tells his story and confesses his sins to a fellow priest, who later betrays him.  His sins involve a secret love affair with a Jewish woman he has fallen in love with.  Gonzalez relates his history in a detailed retelling of his painful childhood, the shelter he found in the Catholic church, his love for Isabella and his life with her once they were secretly married, his reconnection with his religious roots, and how his trust was ultimately betrayed.

Ami Dayan
Photo credit: John Lamb
Now, you know I love a black-box theatre space, and for this production, the audience is seated on all four sides, surrounding the stage.  The set is pretty minimal with a desk and chair, a kneeler, and a couple stacks of black boxes.  But with Dayan's engaging performance, it's all you need.  Nathan Schroeder's subtle lighting design is beautiful, accentuating the changing moods of the storytelling throughout.  Dayan's performance is very powerful, and once the play gains momentum, his command of the role of Gonzalez, struggling with his own identity, keeps you absorbed in the story.

Considering most of the play is all exposition, it's a compelling 75 or so minutes, that's only up for 2 weeks.  Check it out -- it's playing until the 14th.


Written by Oren Neeman
Directed by Joe Gfaller
Adapted by Ami Dayan
Marvin & Harlene Wool Studio, 2 Millstone Campus Drive Creve Coeur
through April 14 | tickets: $35.50 - $39.50
Performances Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm & 7:30pm

Ami Dayan (Andrés Gonzalez and others).

Lighting design by Nathan Schroeder; costume design by Michele Friedman Siler; stage manager, Becky Fortner.

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