Thursday, June 2, 2011

Playing Leni

Robert DaPonte and Amanda Grove

Playing Leni is being presented by the Madhouse Theater Company at the Adrienne Theatre Skybox, 2030 Sansom Streets, through June 11, 2011. A result of the collaboration between playwright David Robson and John Stanton, Playing Leni is a fictionalized account of an Allied soldier’s arrest and transport of the Nazi filmmaker and propagandist, Leni Riefenstahl, to a detention camp. Packed with emotion, this story is vividly told.  Leni is brilliantly played by Amanda Grove.  Staunchly denying any culpability for her filmmaking for the Third Reich, she rants at the unnamed solder as he tries to take away her film. She demands that her journey with him be documented on film. With script in hand, she frequently calls, “cut!” and requests a scene be reworked, much to the audience’s amusement. The soldier pipes in with rewrites of his own,  many of which Leni begrudgingly approves. While Leni and the soldier are on their way to the detention camp, the audience is taken back and forth from the past to the present. As seen through Leni’s eyes, the audience sees her past portrayed as that of an innocent who has been caught up in a whirlwind beyond her control. She almost commands empathy until brought back to the present day. Director Seth Reichgott states that “Playing Leni is really about how we all as individuals rewrite and reedit our own memories and our own experiences so that we can live with ourselves and the decisions we’ve made.” Robert DaPonte engages Leni both as her allied captor in the present and as a Nazi soldier in the past. Neither one seems to suit Riefenstahl. The ending is dramatic, but one that is long anticipated. For further information or tickets for this fine performance call 267-271-9623 or visit online at

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