‘Judgment’ Drags Out But Covers Ground

GABBY HARTZE | THE SPECTRUM Colonel Parker (Craig Roath) and Oskar Rolfe (Reid Strand) share a tense moment in the courtroom in “Judgment at Nuremberg.”
Colonel Parker (Craig Roath) and Oskar Rolfe (Reid Strand) share a tense moment in the courtroom in “Judgment at Nuremberg.”

Upon exiting the theater after seeing “Judgment at Nuremberg” by Tin Roof Theatre, two things are apparent: its length and its strength.

As a courtroom drama, and one based in truth, “Judgment at Nuremberg” goes through the trial of four Nazi judges charged with various crimes during the second World War. From start to finish, the audience sees everything plus extra, all in two and a half hours.

It’s a length like that that somewhat wore on the opening night audience, who exited The Stage at Island Park a few minutes after 10 p.m. Now, there’s nothing wrong with “Judgment” itself. It’s a fine play that touts messages of tolerance, truth and justice and that bigotry will not stand anywhere.

As a courtroom drama, it could be expected all scenes would take place in a courtroom, or at least inside a courthouse. “Judgment” found its main character, Dan Haywood, a North Carolina district court judge, fraternizing with the widow of a war criminal whose house he happens to be staying in.

His interactions with this woman, in hindsight, seemed superfluous and could definitely be cut for time. After all, the subject at hand is trying four judges charged with war crimes, not discussing the lives of begrudged German widows and fatigued American judges.

“Judgment’s” courtroom scenes were where the play’s spine was strongest, and a spectrum of characters supported these. From the young man testifying about his sterilization to the woman brought forward to recall her executed Jewish lover, “Judgment” brought forth some very real truths from a part of history that witnessed horrible events.

Set in Nuremberg, Germany, many of the cast had to develop a German accent for this play, and a fair number of them pulled it off. Reid Strand was in prime form as defense attorney Oscar Rolfe, as was Patrick Carriere as the young man sterilized for being “feeble-minded.”

Nailing the accent was vital for all German characters, and some actors were not entirely convincing. It’s no doubt a hard thing to do alongside a dialogue, which is tense and rapid-fire at many points throughout the play.

Kudos to Malcolm Thompson for delivering an emotional confession on the stand as his controversial German judge Ernst Janning. This scene stands out from all the rest, as Janning essentially seals his fate from the tribunal judges.

The horrors of the Nazi regime are well documented in history books and photographs, but for them to be presented through dramatic testimony onstage was a lens unviewed for most people. “Judgment at Nuremberg” succeeds in its salient message — bigotry and hate will not be tolerated in any society, and truth and justice will always have the right ends for villains and their victims.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: The Stage at Island Park, 333 Fourth St. S.
PRICE: $12 for students, $7 student rush 15 minutes prior to performances
MORE INFO: Facebook.com/TinRoofTheatreCompany

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