BOTTOM LINE: Looking for a solid play with excellent acting, beautiful staging, and a little ass-kicking? This is it.
Right off the bat the main character lets you know exactly how he feels about the world without saying a single word. I honestly thought for a moment that the play was going to be another angst-filled artsy theatrical piece that blathers on for the next hour or so wasting my life and leading me to resent my decision to come to the theater in the first place. Fortunately, this was not the case with Made in Poland. I quickly started to like this play, mainly because the actors were so damn good. I loved to hate the villains and the parental figures were flawed and real. Heck, after this show I can now call myself a Krzysztof Krawczyk fan. For those not in the know, he’s a polish music legend you’ll be introduced to as soon as you see the very cool set designed by Olga Maslik.
The story in some ways reminds me of Good Will Hunting, but in a darker world and with a bit more danger. The main character gets in a heap of trouble when he smashes a Lincoln Town Car in his angst-filled rage. The car belongs to a gangster thug type who finds the boy and threatens him to come up with the money necessary to pay off the damage (and he means it!). The boy seeks out advice from his mom, a flawed father figure and a priest with a past...and takes a detour along the way. While the story and plot seem straightforward, it ultimately struck me more of a poetic narrative that captures life in a chaotic Poland contrasted with the moments of joy that only music and love can deliver.
The characters really drew me in and Jackson Gray’s sharp directing kept the story compelling. In many ways this was an ensemble piece between cast and crew resulting in an example of what good professional theater can be. Some actors even worked overtime, namely Eva Kaminsky playing 3 parts splendidly. Rob Campbell’s portrayal of the patriarch Viktor was heartwarming and tragic. The trio of thugs played by Ryan O’Nan, Ms. Kaminsky, and Jayce Bartok were evil and I totally bought it. Kit Williamson’s choices as Bogus made sense in a lot of ways as we learn about his tormented and confused character. Even the characters that I thought were minor, eventually won me over at some point. Again, everyone in the cast was solid, well-balanced, and compelling. I look forward to seeing more work done by these actors in the future on stage or screen.
For now, check out Made in Poland. It’s a modern, professionally produced piece of dramatic theater that I think guys will actually dig. There’s fighting, moments of humor and a decent story. (It’s better than most weekend reruns you’ll see on cable!) If you are an actor or involved in theater, check it out for the acting and directing. There is a lot of depth in this piece, ultimately resulting in an enjoyable 90 minutes of solid theater.
(Made In Poland plays until November 30th at 59E59 Theatres, 59 East 59th Street between Madison and Park. Performance times are Tuesday through Friday at 8:15pm, Saturday at 2:15pm and 8:15pm and Sunday at 3:15pm. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at ticketcentral.com or by calling 212.279.4200. For more info visit 59E59.org.)