Lillian Hellman’s Watch on the Rhine, directed by Mary A. James, continues at Church Hill Theatre through February 3. An “effective historical drama and a prescient look at today’s world” according to a review by Peter Heck – you do not want to miss this show!
Watch on the Rhine takes place in 1940 at Fanny Farrelly’s estate near Washington, DC, where she and her lawyer son David eagerly await the arrival of his sister, Sara Muller, and her family. Sara, married to a German patriot, for twenty years has made a new life in Europe, far from her domineering mother. Tensions arise when Fanny’s houseguests, a titled Romanian couple, meddle in family affairs. What is going on between the Countess and David Farrelly? And is the Count a Nazi—or just a cad? Matters are resolved during a long cocktail hour that reveals secrets and rips apart Fanny’s comfortably complacent life.
Jane Copple “is in her element” in the role of Fanny Farrelly, a cosmopolitan and well-connected matron who is perhaps too used to getting her own way. Darlene Greer portrays Fanny’s daughter, Sara Muller, stronger than we first think. Robert McGrory plays Kurt Muller, a former engineer and anti-Nazi activist. Heck notes that he “gives the character a good balance between the sympathetic family man and tough freedom fighter.” Lisa Wojehowski, Calla McCluskey, and Connor Christopher play their children, Joshua, Babette and Bodo, all three doing “an excellent job.” Complicating matters are Fanny’s houseguests, the sinisterly attractive Count Teck de Brancovis, played by Will Robinson with “an effective blend of menace and aristocratic disdain.” His American-born wife Marthe is played by Genevieve Croker who Heck notes does a “good job” at portraying a woman stuck in a dead-end marriage. Howard Mesick is Fanny’s lawyer son David, a man who finds more backbone as his comfortable world changes. Sheila Austrian is “well cast” as Fanny’s French housekeeper/companion Anise.
James, with substantial experience at St. Martin’s Community Theatre and the Colonial Players, is making her directorial debut at Church Hill Theatre. Her production team includes Producer Hester Sachse and Lighting Designer Doug Kaufmann. The set was designed by the director and Temple Worth and constructed by Carmen Grasso and Tom Rhodes. Speedy Christopher helps backstage.
Watch on the Rhine continues until February 3. Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 pm and Sunday afternoons at 2 pm. Reservations can be made on line at churchhilltheatre.org or by calling (410) 556-6003.