Echoes in the Heart
William J Geery Theater2130 L St.
Sacramento, CA 95816
Sacramentan Susanne Sommer was just a baby when her parents escaped from Germany just before the invasion of Poland in 1939. It took more than three years for her family to get to America, and even then many strings were pulled and numerous favors called in so that the family could make it to the United States.
Echoes in the Heart, written by Sommer and Leo McElroy, chronicles the plight of her family and its exodus from Germany through dramatized readings of actual letters.
The play, in execution, has the audience watching these characters write letters to people on the other side of the stage. The first time this happens, it feels unique and interesting. By the end of the play, however, it’s a wonder anyone has paid attention for this long.
The actors do with the production what they can. Unfortunately, the repetitive nature of the script just features the actors reading out loud as they are writing or standing onstage, silently reacting to letters as they’re read over in narration. A lot.
The product is a biographic litany of injustices large and small committed against Jews in the late 1930s. It also just feels like a laundry list.
The play possesses no arc; indeed, every scene here is just a fresh slice of difficulty from that era. It gives an interesting firsthand account of history, but unfortunately is done in a way that moves slowly, restates the same sentiments over and over again, and just generally lags from watching people reading a letter as it’s being read over the sound system.
If history is your bag and you don’t mind hearing a story of hardship that never really resolves, check this one out.