There are six million stories in the Holocaust, but few as vivid and complex as that of Stella Kubler Goldschlag, the so-called Blonde Poison. That is also the title of Gail Louw’s one-person performance piece currently receiving its area premiere at Primal Forces.
From her Berlin apartment in the 1990s, where Stella is preparing to be interviewed by a German-born, American journalist, she looks back on her life as an informant for the Gestapo, identifying Jews in hiding and sending them to their death in concentration camps.
For by a quirk of nature, Stella had the blonde hair, blue eyes and high cheekbones of an Aryan beauty, even though she was a Jewess. As if practicing her rationale for the interviewer, she explains to the audience that her complicity with the Nazis was intended to save the lives of her parents, who were ultimately transported to Theresienstadt and executed. Yet that did not end her collaboration, which gained her comfortable housing, ample fine food and a succession of lovers and husbands, as well as responsibility for the death of as many as 3,000 German Jews.
Veteran actress Lourelene Snedeker takes on the challenging role of Stella, riffing through the character’s stark memories in a stream-of-consciousness recollection of how she survived the war years. She risks losing audience sympathies with her dry-eyed explanation for her actions, daring us to consider what we might have done in her situation, claiming that the Jews she sent to their death would have perished in someone else’s hands if not hers.
Snedeker is never less than compelling in her solo delivery, even as the play slips into the usual artificial tropes of monodramas. Director Keith Garsson sends her roaming about the wide, shallow apartment set for no apparent reason other than that a light has come on in that area. Her recitation/confession/justification is drawn from a book by Peter Wyden, ostensibly the interviewer to whom she is waiting to talk. While Louw packs a great deal in her 90-minute stage adaptation, after a while it begins to feel repetitive.
Still, by a quirk of scheduling, Blonde Poison makes a worthy companion piece to We Will Not Be Silent, a four-character Nazi interrogation play currently playing at FAU Theatre Lab. And as a textbook study in the art of acting, Snedeker’s performance deserves to be seen, despite the shortcomings of the material.
BLONDE POISON, Primal Forces at Sol Theatre, 3333 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton. Through Sunday, March 10. $30-$35. 866-811-4111 or visit primalforces.com.