The Gardens of Frau Hess | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

The Gardens of Frau Hess


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Milton Frederick Marcus's 1998 play is an egregious example of the American tendency to see every event in terms of personal melodrama: he uses the Holocaust only as grisly backdrop to a fictional affair between the wife of Hitler's deputy fuhrer and her gardener, a Jewish botanist taken from a concentration camp. (You know how it goes: boy meets girl, girl calls boy a "hook-nosed degenerate," boy and girl fall into each other's arms over shared confidences, French wine, and Wagner records.) Quite apart from the affair's fundamental preposterousness, Marcus's recasting of genocide as a complication in a love story is criminally stupid. I suppose it's impressive that the actors in Linda LeVeque's production manage to wring a few drops of humanity from these two utterly false characters, but you can't help wondering what possessed Pyewacket to stage this nonsense in the first place. Through 7/2: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM. Athenaeum Theatre, third-floor studio theater, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500. $10-$25.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →