Convergence-Continuum’s ‘Walking To Buchenwald’ goes from sizzle to fizzle
Schiller (Emmy Cohen) and Arjay (Carolyn Todd) are a lesbian couple who enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. This includes traveling abroad during the eight years they have been an item. They are at the point of tying the knot but are in a quandary as to how to tell Schiller’s parents.
As they make their plans for an upcoming whirlwind tour of England, France and Germany Schiller decides that it would be a wonderful idea if her parents (Minnesota expats now living in Oklahoma who have never traveled outside the United States) accompany them on their trip. It would give them the perfect setting to announce their engagement. Mildred (Nanna Ingvarsson) and Rojer (John J. Polk) need some convincing (especially Mildred). She does not speak or understand any foreign languages and he can read but a bit of German. What could possibly go wrong?
Thus is the theme of Tom Jacobson’s “Walking To Buchenwald” in which well meaning travelers become theuglyamerican⁴. This show illustrates the need for more stringent requirements in regards to passport applications.
In short order Mildred foists herself onto an unsuspecting British population. Rojer pops an elegant selection of French Foie Gras into his gob like it’s a Chicken McNugget. Arjay uses the N word (NAZI) in public in Germany and Schiller drives the three of them to distraction with her constant pushing of “The Schedule.” It is “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” septuagenarian’s version. Added to the story is Rojer’s heart condition and Mildred’s terminal disease (who appears too healthy to be that ill).
While the show starts out strong it soon bogs down as the actors have problems with the dialogue. Flubbed lines, pregnant pauses and mispronunciations take away from the sharp comedy that it could have been. In the hands of a better prepared cast this could have been a real hoot. The one bright spot is John Peters who plays “Others” which include Brits (male and female), a French waiter versed in the fine art of insulting Americans, a plasticized cadaver, a German Communist, a German Skinhead and a put upon German Motorist who is convinced that America has used nuclear weapons in the past few days.
The show is directed by Brian Westerley. The stark but effective stage set is the work of scenic designer Scott Zolkowski. Cory Molner does a fine job in the lighting design and Kate Smith gives everyone appropriate garb as the costume designer. The show is in the neighborhood of 90 minutes long with a ten minute intermission.
With a little bit of tightening up this could be an extremely funny and moving show except for the ending that just goes phiff as the cast suddenly goes meandering off to Buchenwald following a dramatic medical situation.
Convergence-Continuum’s production of “Walking To Buchenwald” will be on stage in the Liminis Theatre at 2438 Scranton Road in historic Tremont through June 24, 2023. For more information and to purchase tickets go to https://www.convergence-continuum.org/ or call (216) 687-0074