Bloomberg News

Hitler’s Hucksters; ‘Zoloft’ Toasts Joyless 40th: Review

June 03, 2012

"Chimichangas and Zoloft"

Carmen Zilles and Xochitl Romero in "Chimichangas and Zoloft." The show will have limited engagement through June 24. Photographer: Ahron Foster/Boneau/Bryan-Brown via Bloomberg

I expected to see protesters outside Theater for the New City the night I went down to Manhattan’s East Village for “Hoaxocaust!”

With that title and a website that says, “Written and Performed by Barry Levey With the Generous Assistance of the Institute for Political & International Studies, Tehran,” I anticipated a show about what has been derisively and ignorantly labeled “Holocaust, Inc.”

In fact, this is a stab at satire.

The Institute in Tehran does exist, every bit as much as its sponsor, the Iranian president and lunatic Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

He shows up in “Hoaxocaust!” -- along with fellow travelers Arthur Butz, David Irving and Robert Faurisson, the academy-protected patron saints of Holocaust denial.

With all due respect to Mel Brooks and the goose-stepping storm-troopers of “The Producers,” the Holocaust generally makes for lousy entertainment.

Levey, a gay Jewish man, becomes curious about the facts of the Final Solution and finagles meetings with Butz at Northwestern University, Irving in London and Faurisson in Paris before landing an unexpected audience with the Iranian leader. Mahmoud comes off as warm and rational.

Numbers Game

They dispute everything from the number of Jewish dead to the efficacy of Zyklon B gas and Hitler’s intentions regarding the Jewish problem. Levey plays all of them.

You may figure out the gimmick before it is revealed, and I won’t ruin it here. Levey and the producers of “Hoaxocaust!” are earnest. Every performance is followed by a talkback with the producers and guest experts.

There is help from actor Adam Green, playing an ingratiating role with verve. The modest production is staged by Jeremy Gold Kronenberg.

But Levey, author and character, is foolish and beyond our empathy. Too late, we get a secret password to decode the “Hoaxocaust!” website and the “facts” that have been tossed out during the 70-minute show. Lacking the acid bite of committed satire, the show risks promoting what it condemns.

Through June 17 at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. near East 9th St. Information: +1-212-254-1109; http://www.theaterforthenewcity.net. Rating: *1/2

‘Chimichangas, Zoloft’

Mexican food and anti-depressants are getting Sonia Martinez through her 40th birthday, celebrated alone and on the lam from her bartender husband and teenage daughter in “Chimichangas and Zoloft,” at the Atlantic Theater Company’s Stage 2.

The diet leaves her flatulent and bloated, no laughing matter (not for her, anyway), and we think she’s just having a midlife crisis over gravity’s impact on her body and the sudden appearance of unruly hairs on various parts of her husband’s body.

Then we get the picture of home life, and it’s no wonder Sonia (played with appealing deadpan bewilderment by Zabryna Guevara) has split.

Daughter Jackie (Carmen Zilles) and her best friend Penelope (Xochitl Romero) are discovering sex and can’t shut up about it. Every other word is “Dude.” Or “Dude!” Or “Duuuuude!!!”

Their macho fathers (Alfredo Narciso, Teddy Canez) work a little too hard at being rude and antagonistic with each other when the kids are around.

The girls wonder why the doors are locked when the dads go off to watch soccer in the den. We, on the other hand, are privy to the truth, thanks a lot.

Fernanda Coppel has written a series of acting exercises that reveal an ear for youthful dialogue. There’s no play yet

Through June 24 at 330 W. 16th St. Information: +1-279- 4200; http://www.ticketcentral.com. Rating: *


What the Stars Mean:
****        Do Not Miss
***         Excellent
**          Good
*           So-So
(No stars)  Avoid

(Jeremy Gerard is the chief U.S. drama critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Muse highlights include Elin McCoy on wine and Zinta Lundborg on Gail Collins.

To contact the writer of this column: Jeremy Gerard in New York at jgerard2@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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