Taking Sides

Updated February 11, 2017 | Infoplease Staff
By: Ronald Harwood
Director: David Jones
Sets: David Jenkins
Costumes: Theoni V. Aldredge
Lighting: Howell Binkley
Sound: Peter Fitzgerald
Production Stage Manager: Bob Borod
Opened: 10/96 at the Brooks Atkinson Theater
Cast: Ed Harris, Daniel Massey, Elizabeth Marvel, Michael Stuhlbarg, Norbert Weisser and Ann Dowd

The time: 1946. The place: Berlin. The question: Did German conductor Wilhelm Furtwngler (Massey) commit crimes against humanity by continuing to make music during Hitler's reign? American major Steve Arnold (Harris) leads the investigation. Massey delivers a brilliant performance as a man who insists he did the right thing by giving people hope and beauty through his music, in spite of Hitler. This premise should have made for stimulating philosophical drama. Unfortunately, Arnold is written simple-minded, and he prides himself on his ignorance of classical music: The Ugly American Goes to the Symphony. He sees the world in black and white and searches for ?reasons my buddies can understand.? In his own way, Furtwngler doesn't get it either. He can't fathom why he has to justify his life's work to a man not fit to judge it. In the end, the play suffers, despite Massey's considerable skill, because the protagonists are not well-matched. Imagine Albert Einstein explaining himself to Archie Bunker.

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