Exploring the dark shadows cast by World War II and the Holocaust is "Full Circle," the latest production by Wheaton Drama. Adapted by Peter Stone, it was written by Erich Maria Remarque, the disillusioned World War I veteran who penned "All Quiet on the Western Front," later banned by the Nazis.
“Full Circle” picks up in 1945 war-torn Germany with a young woman named Anna, who struggles with her identity and with finding a way to hang on to the will to live despite the despair around her.
When an escaped concentration camp prisoner shows up at her door looking for a place to stay, Anna takes him in reluctantly. Lisa Dawn Foertsch of Downers Grove plays the complicated role of Anna.
“She has a great growth throughout the show,” Foertsch says. “In the beginning she is kind of numb to everything, because she’s been through this whirlwind of losing her husband to seeing death and destruction and loss. But she has this extreme need to survive — even though she’s closed down to the world and is numb to the gunshots and violence around her.”
But the story isn’t just full of sadness. There are several characters who integrate humor, such as Koerner, played by Lars Timpa of Wood Dale.
“Koerner is absurd,” Timpa says. “He’s the Nazi that is in charge of keeping record of who is alive and who is dead. He’s a Nazi that still believes they can actually win the war. There will actually be a few laughs in the show—they are dark, but they are laughs.”
Not only is Timpa bringing his comedic skills into play, he also helps the cast hone the German and Russian accents they have to conquer.
“It’s been really challenging (learning) a German accent,” Foertsch says. “Especially when you get in the moment with the emotions, you revert back to how you normally would talk. It’s been tricky, but it’s been fun.”
The cast members are excited about the show and are standing behind it, because they believe it’s an important story that needs to be told.
“In theater, musicals sell better than comedy, and comedy sells better than drama,” Timpa says. “It would be nice if people came to see this, because World War II is something that's (being) forgotten. I’m sure there are people in these kinds of situations trying to survive all over the world right now. It plays to all audiences.”
See the show
What: Wheaton Drama presents “Full Circle,” a look at survival, responsibility, hope and love in war-torn Berlin
Where: Playhouse 111, 111 N. Hale St., Wheaton
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays (except March 31) now through April 7
Tickets: $13 to $16; www.wheatondrama.org, 630-260-1820