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The later works of Arthur Miller for the most part did not find the popular acceptance as Death Of A Salesman or The Crucible. The original production at New York's ANTA Theater only ran 32 performances. Still Miller had a lot to say left in him and Incident At Vichy examines the docility at which people just allowed themselves to be shipped like cattle to the camps.
This is a one act play set in an interrogation room of a police station in Vichy where a form of independence was left the French as opposed to Occupied France which covered the Atlantic coast and the northeastern border. But it was reasoned that in order to keep even that the French had to cooperate with the Nazi version of ethnic cleansing.
Several people have been seemingly hauled in at random and for the first part of the play they wonder why this cross section of France has been brought in for interrogation. They reason it out that most are Jews, there's a Communist in the group, a gypsy, a titled nobleman, and an actor who is Jewish, but is likely to be gay. At least that's how Rene Auberjonois plays it.
An inability to conceive of such a vile action plus a general paralysis in terms of translating conception to action is at the heart of these people who rationalize the irrational. An interesting polar opposite is that of their captors, the Germans among them, that it logically follows that when you single out certain groups for the cause of all the evil that's around you have to destroy them. They are following logically what they've convinced themselves is so.
Unforgettable in their parts in a fine ensemble is Harris Yulin an Austrian psychologist and disciple of Freud. Yulin is the only one who has figured out the extent of the trouble. Still he rationalizes as his training has taught him. Richard Jordan plays the nobleman, a titled remnant of Europe's bygone days, decadent but a shrewd observer of things and people.
The most poignant performance for me is that of Sean Kelly who just went on an errand for his mother and is rounded up. He hasn't lived or learned enough to rationalize. He's the innocent of the group and just trusts the adults to help him through.
Incident At Vichy not the best known of Miller's works is a thought provoking play which taps into a kaleidoscope of both rational thinking and hindsight emotion as we the audience know what a horrible fate is in store for these people. It ought to be shown as much and to as wide an audience as possible.
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