If you’ve not seen Natalie Parker-Lawrence’s play, “A Box of Yellow Stars” at Theatreworks in Memphis, you have missed a treasure. It is a treasure in more ways than one, but does not involve money or material riches. It is a treasure of human suffering, denial, secrets, sacrifice, human kindness, and ultimately love. It delves deep into the psyche of human feelings of complete despair, without a foreseeable positive outcome, and how one person brought 15 others out of that bondage, and certain death, and delivered them into a new world of hope.
Lawrence, who teaches theatre in Memphis says she wrote the stage play after one of her pupils told her about an uncle that had just died, and how he had made it a crusade to get Jewish women out of Germany and German occupied countries during the holocaust of World War II. His methods were simple; he would marry them and take them out as his wives, then later divorce them to save their lives.
The play is written around the lives of three of these Jewish women, or actually two women and one man, whose mother dressed him as a girl so he could survive, and he too was taken out of Germany under this guise.
The play begins with a wake at a funeral home, where an elderly woman is there with her adult daughter, who doesn’t understand why her mother is at a wake of a man that the daughter doesn’t even know. The plot thickens as another elderly lady and a man wearing women’s clothes arrives to honor the deceased, and it is determined that all three have something very much in common.
The play is superbly written, and the actors have a special chemistry that cannot be explained. The director performed her magic to make the entire play bond into a remarkable story of history and humanity. The actors are Donna Lappin as Sonya, Daniel Martine as Lee, Janie Paris as Helena and Dana Terle as Patsy. Ruby O’ Gray is the director and Karen Moore is the executive producer.
There are only two performances left for this show at Theatreworks. They are Nov. 21, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. and a matinees at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 22. It is definitely worth making a special effort to see, and hopefully, it will be performed at many other venues. Theatreworks is located at 2085 Monroe Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38104 – Phone (901)274-7139.
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