At a time when US military presence around the globe falls under ever greater scrutiny, playwright Michael Silver begs the question “Can occupiers ever be truly accepted by the occupied?” Through the prism of a quiet Russian-occupied town in 1940’s-era Poland, Silver’s The Storehouse examines themes of national identity, forgiveness, and the utter futility of war.
The Storehouse centers on Russian soldiers, Anton and Sergei, who are charged with maintaining a hastily constructed warehouse containing Russian handouts for the Polish citizens. They are visited throughout the production by their commanding officer Nikolai Ipanov and friendly local, Anna. Initially everything seems peaceful as the soldiers clean the storehouse to prepare it for the next regiment. However, the specter of unrest and insurrection soon threatens to shatter the uneasy truce between residents and soldiers.
As the central duo, David Byrd and Vince Constantino compliment each other in a yin/yang arrangement. Byrd exhibits an easy confidence as Anton, the nihilist with a heart, while Constantino imbues straight edged Sergei with an endearing sincerity.
Lizzie Albert’s practiced Polish accent and piercing gaze bring a riveting energy to the role of Anna. And as the exacting Lieutenant Ipanov, Evan Crump’s sharp diction and imposing physical presence make him an ideal foil to the swaggering Anton.
The production also showcases considerable attention to period detail. Crisp military uniforms, rifles, swords, and even a worn accordion make an appearance. It’s a nice touch that bolsters the show’s historical bona fides and raises the bar for other such Fringe productions.
The Storehouse offers compelling wartime drama with confident performances and a fresh setting. Furthermore, the question of respect for national and personal sovereignty resonates with current foreign policy struggles. In other words, it’s an ideal summer outing for the wonky DC set.
The Storehouse has 3 more performances at Spooky Universe – Universalist National Memorial Church, 1810 16th Street NW, Washington, DC.