Incident at Vichy
Incident at Vichy – Theater Review
Written as a companion piece to After the Fall, Incident at Vichy illustrates the anti-Semitic ideas which fed the Holocaust. Set in Vichy France during the German occupation in 1942, the action focuses on a group of detainees representing all walks of life-from a beggar to a prince-who wait to be interrogated by the Nazis who are searching for Jews to send to the death camps. As the men anxiously wait, a number of discussions arise among the prisoners concerning their attitudes on the occupation, the resistance, and the anti-Semitic environment rampant in Europe at the time. Despite confrontations with the Nazi captors and their fear of what awaits them, the prisoners discover the possibility of meaning.
“Incident at Vichy” is one of Arthur Miller’s early plays that explores the issue of evil when good people do nothing. It’s set in an austere quasi police station in Vichy, France, at the beginning of the German occupation, when a group of men and a boy are randomly drawn off the street, for reasons unknown to them or the audience. As the play unfolds, we figure out what they’re there for. Again, I don’t want to give away too much. This is Arthur Miller at his earliest and clunkiest in some ways. All the things that made Arthur Miller a humanist, and a great playwright, and the Pulitzer Prize winner are present, but they’re not nearly in the form that we’ve come to expect. The characterization of the cast is a little uneven, but they still get the point across. If you’re an Arthur Miller fan and want to see some of his earliest work, don’t miss “Incident of Vichy”, two stars.