This review of the play entitled "Lebensraum" was written and published by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and appeared in Volume I, Issue 1 (November, 1997) of Applause! Applause!
"Lebensraum" - A Play by Israel Horvitz
Miranda Theatre Company (259 West 30th Street, NYC)
The fact that there are few Jews left in Germany inspired Israel Horovitz to write "Lebensraum" (Living Space) about a future German Leader who invites 6 million of the world's Jews to move back to Germany. The resulting reactions of both Jews and Germans of many different minds are the basis for the plot. The able cast of Jeremy Silver, Scott Richards and Emme Shaw, playing multiple roles, makes this a very enjoyable production.
There are great insights here into what the reactions of people might be to such an offer. I thoroughly enjoyed the production and urge others to catch this play. My only criticism is that I found the play to be unrealistic in one instance and sanctioning a double standard in another. The unrealistic element was the belief that if Jews just stood up for themselves with arms in defense against an angry mob, that the mob once dispersed, would stay dispersed. I think the reality is quite the opposite. Once the angry mob sees that the targets of their anger have weapons, they will feel justified in using even greater violent force against them. The double standard element was that it appeared clearly wrong for a Jew to deny his being Jewish "if the world doesn't like Jews." However, there appeared to be no recognition by the playwright that reverse discrimination should also be discouraged. In the play, there appears to be nothing wrong with a Jewish teenager asking a non-Jewish German girlfriend to lie to his Jewish grandmother about her nationality. The Jewish boy even goes so far as to suggest that his girlfriend tell his grandmother that she is Korean.
Other than these few minor faults, I found the play most engaging and thought-provoking.