Dirty Hands

Also powerful is the tone of the production, directed by Henry Fonte. In his own program notes, he says that as a child in Cuba in the late 1950s, "[I] watched my parents first fight for Castro, and then turn violently against him. I saw the consequences of taking a moral stand." Happily for theatergoers, the creative union of Fonte and McKeever results in a production that transcends the specifics of time and place, however horrific some of those times and places were. To be sure, the play addresses the evils of Nazism and, by association, Castro's reign. In the rare instance that McKeever puts a speech in Hannah's mouth, what comes out is one of the most articulate condemnations of the Germans' indifference to the Jews ever voiced.

But McKeever -- the author of seven plays in the past two years -- doesn't limit his scrutiny to those who tolerated the Third Reich. The play will retain its power long after those bearing witness to Hitler and Castro are gone. What's less likely to be sustained, I fear, is our appetite for plays that don't resolve the conflicts they raise. As a nation, we prefer feel-good stories and odes to success. (Warren Beatty's "political" movie Bulworth is just the latest example.) The price of taking a stand is very dear, McKeever reminds us. Hannah loses much of what's meaningful to her, but her words to the apolitical Rudy ring loudly: "How empty your life must be, to have no cause."

The Garden of Hannah List.
Written by Michael McKeever; directed by Henry Fonte; with Marcia Mahon, Greg Longenhagen, Finnerty Steeves, Mark Ulrich, Susan Gay, Ryan Hilliard, Stephen G. Anthony, Travis Otto, and Clay Buchanan. Through June 14. Florida Stage, 262 S Ocean Blvd, Manalapan; 561-585-3433.

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