A Jewish Saint

The strange tale of Edith Stein— the Jewish-born nun killed in Auschwitz who this year was canonized a saint— presents a cornucopia of dramatic conflict. Beyond the guilt of converting to Catholicism in an age of Christian persecution of Jews, there is the question of the young woman's readiness for the strict Carmelite order, the threat of the Nazis discovering her "true" identity, and, finally, the controversy surrounding her recent apotheosis. Arthur Giron's Edith Stein (Studio 2) attempts to cover all this and more— the story of SS officer Karl-Heinz's obsessive pursuit of his convent quarry is set up as a sinister parallel to Stein's own religious fervor. Though individual scenes are often well-observed, the piece as a whole is overwritten— making emotional connection to the material cumbersome. Adam Forest's attractive candlelit staging keeps the zigzagging action free of bottlenecks, while Jennifer Mattern sensitively portrays Stein as a passionately intelligent woman in search of her God-given gifts.

 
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