Jews in the News - March 15, 2007

Fascist Farce

“Farce with Swastikas” - A Journalist´s Play (Falter, March 14, 2007)
In this fast-paced, screwball comedy about a wandering Jew and his frenetic crusade to purloin Aryan property by playing on vulnerable Austrian guilt, the magazine “Falter” has concocted an entertainment replete with mistaken identity, repartee, and swastikas.

“Farce with Swastikas” (“Posse mit Hakenkreuzen”) is loosely based on the ongoing challenges of the Jewish Theater of Austria to reestablish an international Jewish theater in the Nestroyhof – a building with a cultural history that was interrupted when it was acquired through Nazi thievery by the family that continues to possess it today. The mischievous protagonist, Warren Rosenzweig, is a comical blend of blood thirsting Shylock and Charlie Chaplin tramp, wreaking vengeance, yet harmlessly poor. According to the righter, an early experience with an Austrian Nazi may have set him upon his destructive course…

The setting is a neglected theater hall in a building known as “Nestroyhof,” located in the center of the former Jewish district “Leopoldstadt” (named for the emperor who banished all Jews from Vienna in the late 17th Century). The unlikely hero of the story is the co-owner of the disputed Nestroyhof, who vows to defend the reputation of his family against the likes (or dislikes) of Warren Rosenzweig. Even if the accusations are true, what can the family do about the blemishes of its past? Yet Rosenzweig pushes the ‘Jewish card’ in every scene.

He will stop at nothing. He dreams and schemes, points the proverbial finger, and seizes control over the press. When will the fanatic Jew let go? What are his victims to do? Why is he so attached to the Nestroyhof? The audience wants to know. A spicy brew of hearsay, disinformation, exciting twists, and zany fun, “Farce with Swastikas” has a message, too: We must be wary of the smartass Jew.

I. Horrowitz

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