WAY TO HEAVEN: 89% – SWEET

Norbert Weisser, left, and Bruce Katzman in "Way to Heaven" at the Odyssey Theatre. Credit: Enci.

SWEET
Mayorga’s outrage can become oppressive, and sometimes director Ron Sossi treats his subject matter with too much reverence. (Both are understandable responses, but they turn drama into preaching.) “Way” isn’t easy viewing, but there is something bracing about its clarity and moral power. Mayorga’s true-life fable anatomizes our persistent urge to see what we want to, instead of the truth.
Charlotte Stoudt – LA Times

SWEET
Brilliant performances all around in an agonizingly authentic re-telling of a long horror story make this a play to be seen by the world – a play for the ages.
Madeleine Shaner – Park La Brea News/Beverly Press (opens in pdf)

SWEET
The ramifications of the story transcend not just docudramatic realism but also the time and place in which the story is set. It even resonates in contemporary LA, where many actors frequently take roles that they might not otherwise endorse, in order to keep food on the table. I’m not saying that the directors of Cialis commercials are Nazis, no. But I wouldn’t be surprised if actors who see it have a few second thoughts about the choices they make. It’s wonderful but ironic that the entire production is, in itself, beautifully acted.
Don Shirley – LA Stage Watch

SWEET
Sossi crafts a mood of palpable onstage terror and cracklingly compelling turns are offered by Weisser’s terrifying commandant, by Bruce Katzman’s broken Jewish camp inmate and by McGee’s appalled Red Cross worker.
Paul Birchall – LA Weekly

SWEET
Although Way to Heaven chooses to tell only a small, tightly contained part of the Theresienstadt story, it still manages to capture its essential horror and tragedy. The actors, director Ron Sossi and his creative team (who created an atmospheric and effective setting) deserve a lot of praise for their bold, good work.
Willard Manus – TotalTheater

SWEET
This is a production that should not be missed.
Carol Kaufman Segal – Reviewplays

SWEET
Some plays hit us over the heads with their ideas and their ideals. This one instead nudges us. It makes us watch and listen—and think and learn.
Dany Margolies – Backstage

SWEET
This is a great time at the theater, because art cannot be depressing when it’s done this well, I don’t care what it’s about; acting, design, and language this brilliant enrich us. They brighten our souls, even as we weep.
Jason Rohrer – Stagehappenings

BITTER
Juan Mayorga’s Holocaust-themed “Way to Heaven” is a bold but failed employment of metatheatrical means to unearth a parcel of historical truth. It’s one thing to characterize the appalling deception at Theresienstadt concentration camp as the ultimate role-playing theatrical spectacle. It’s quite another to emphasize the performance metaphor to the exclusion of everything else. In the process, the victims’ horror – genuine suffering, not figurative – is trivialized.
Bob Verini – Variety

WAY TO HEAVEN
Odyssey Theatre
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles; thru Dec. 18, 2011
Tickets: $25 and $30; (310) 477-2055
Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

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LemonMeter About the Author: We don’t “review” shows here at the Lemon, rather we "review" reviews by gathering them from a variety of local review sites around the internet, judging them to be positive or negative, then forming an aggregate score that we call a LEMONMETER RATING, showing how well that show has been reviewed in total. For more detail on how the LemonMeter works visit here.

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