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Signature Theatre Presents Arthur Miller's "Incident at Vichy" at The Pershing Square Signature Center
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Signature Theatre Presents Arthur Miller's "Incident at Vichy" at The Pershing Square Signature Center

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Signature Theatre
Incident at Vichy

By Arthur Miller
Directed by Michael Wilson

Signature Theatre
(Signature Theatre Website)
James Houghton, Founding Artistic Director
Erika Mallin, Exec. Director
The Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 244-PLAY (7529)

David Abeles, Curtis Billings, James Carpinello
AJ Cedeño, Demosthenes Chrysan, Quinlan Corbett
Brian Cross, Jonathan Gordon, Jonathan Hadary
Alex Morf, Jonny Orsini, Darren Pettie
John Procaccino, Alec Shaw, Derek Smith
Richard Thomas, Evan Zes

Scenic Design: Jeff Cowie
Costume Design: David C. Woolard
Lighting Design: David Lander
Sound Design: John Gromada
Projection Design: Rocco DiSanti
Dialect Coach: Deborah Hecht
Fight Direction: Mark Olsen
Production Stage Manager: Robert Bennett
Casting: Telsey + Company/Karyn Casl/CSA
Press Representative: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Assoc. Artistic Director: Beth Whitaker
General Manager: Gilbert Medina
Director of Marketing/Audience Services: David Hatkoff
Director of Production: Paul Ziemer

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 20, 2015

The onstage air is heavy at Signature Theatre, as Arthur Miller’s mid-1960’s play, Incident at Vichy, opens. In stark, brutal lighting, in 1942 Vichy, France, ten detainees are seated about the stage with French and German guards and police watching the herd. Although the detainees have escaped the German occupied portion of France, not one detainee can fully grasp the purpose of his plight. Conversations ensue, dialogues and monologues, at first consoling themselves and one another that each will shortly be able to leave, as, one by one, the detainees are summoned to a rear, offstage room, when a door loudly slams and occasional banging sounds erupt. Among the ten detainees are a waiter (David Abeles), an “Old Jew” (Jonathan Hadary), a teenage boy (Jonathan Gordon), a psychiatrist named Leduc (Darren Pettie), a painter named Lebeau (Jonny Orsini), an electrician, who’s an open socialist, named Bayard (Alex Morf), an Austrian prince named Von Berg (Richard Thomas), an actor named Monceau (Derek Smith), a gypsy (Evan Zes), and a businessman named Marchand (John Procaccino).

The gypsy scrapes crumbs from a pot, and the Old Jew huddles with his bible, while the prince, the businessman, the actor, and the waiter sit smugly, predicting an effortless confrontation when each of their turns arise. The prince has aristocratic, Austrian relatives, the businessman claims his papers show non-Jewish roots, the actor brags about his ability to persuade through theater, and the waiter works for the proprietor Ferrand (Demosthenes Chrysan), who cooks for the guards. The most confrontational of the detainee ensemble are Bayard, who rants against the Nazis, with whom the French are collaborating, Leduc, who tries to stage an escape into the courtyard, and Lebeau, who can’t understand why his nose was measured with a ruler. The men are ordered about by a variety of detectives, guards, and a conflicted German army major (James Carpinello), who at first refuses to become involved with the interrogations, but, after leaving for a few drinks, comes back fighting like a bull for his own standing and survival. A seething, cringe-worthy Professor Hoffman (Brian Cross) adds dread to the already doomed men. Poignancy ensues when the Old Jew’s tossed bag of feathers flies about the stage, as he softly prays in Hebrew, in the rough hands of the guards. Another spotlight occurs during what may be an all-too-long diatribe by Leduc, in a one-on-one with Von Berg, an electrically charged vocal explosion.

Michael Wilson has directed this compelling play, in intermission-less format, to shine a light on World War II’s atrocities and the state of mass denial that enabled the Holocaust exist, then escalate; Bayard warns of Polish trains with locked doors and crowds of imprisoned passengers; The male detainees assume the guards will use only the paper documents, in the back room, to verify Jewish birth; The actor thinks he can pretend his way out the front door. Later, the psychiatrist accuses the prince of cold selfishness, before the prince is featured in a finale twist. Jeff Cowie’s scenery allows the imagination to wander to back rooms, courtyard doors, and the nearby railroad. David C. Woolard’s costumes have the actor donning a smart scarf and the prince attired in a richly tailored suit. David Lander’s stark lighting keeps the edginess palpable, and John Gromada’s sound design figures most prominently in the final searing moments. Kudos to Arthur Miller for this monumental play. To quote Elie Wiesel, “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at