Ödön von Horváth’s 1937 play Judgment Dayhas never felt timelier. A dark morality tale about the consequences of failing to do one’s duty, the complexity of truth, and the fickleness of mob mentality, it was perhaps the Austro-Hungarian playwright’s attempt at working out his own guilt for having lived in Berlin yet failed to sufficiently highlight the dangers of National Socialism. It also, of course, resonates in any era in which the slippery slope of falsehood predominates, and the individual often appears too afraid of being turned on by the group to admit truths that appear self-evident (if the cap fits, Senate Republicans…).

Judgment Dayat Park Avenue Armory. Photo © Stephanie Berger

Written in short, pithy scenes made up of short, pithy exchanges, Christopher Shinn’s thoughtful translation for British director Richard Jones’ brooding, monolithic production at Park Avenue Armory hits the nail on the head. His evocative sentences walk the fine line between 20th-century Expressionism and a contemporary naturalism (both of which wrestle for predominance in von Horváth’s original). “Sometimes I ask myself – what crimes are we atoning for,”...

Access our paywalled content and archive of magazines, regular news and features for the limited offer of $3 per month. Support independent journalism.

Subscribe now or log in to continue reading.