There’s the Adam Rapp of the sharp and pithy humor (“Red Light Winter”), or the Adam Rapp of a more low-key writerly magnetism (“Nocturne”). But always, at the core, the Adam Rapp that you ultimately get is the one who straps on the headlamp and hurtles down into the black cavern where the misery of the soul resides. Rapp has reached new depths of bleakness in “Trueblinka” (currently at Chicago Dramatists in a production by Collaboraction), but his efforts leave you wondering why he bothered. Rilthe Klieg (Craige Christensen, fully committed) rules her family with an iron fist and ironclad belief in a strict, almost monastic adherence to Catholicism—a mother so easily reviled for her severe brand of zeal, the character feels like she’s on loan from Stephen King’s “Carrie.” Sadly, there is no pig blood at the prom, but there is a moaning woman kept locked in the attic, a la “Jane Eyre,” and by the story’s end, nearly every character has spilled his or her share of the red stuff. To which the only logical response might be: “Okay. And?” Beyond establishing the fundamental fucked-upness of the family, Rapp does little else to support the turns of plot. The thematic emphasis on church dogma and its hypocrisies are no accident, but the setup seems unfair; Rilthe’s sociopath tendencies would have surely found a destructive outlet, religious or not. Butting up against all this is the specter of Treblinka—Rapp wants to make a correlation between the Jewish victims of a Holocaust concentration camp with the victims of Rilthe’s household. The metaphor, like this play, goes nowhere. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.