Based on the book by Corrie ten Boom
with John and Elizabeth Sherrill
Produced by Provision Theatre Chicago
Powerful story of faith, love and forgiveness is a haunting theatrical experience
Tim Gregory’s adaptation of the true account of Corrie ten Boom’s Holocaust story is a major theatrical achievement. The Hiding Place, now in a world premier, is an important story worth being mounted on stage. We meet the ten Boom family from Haarlem, Holland on the eve of the Nazi invasion and occupation of Holland in 1940. Corrie ten Boom (Lia Mortensen), her sister, the saintly Betsie ten Boom (Cynthia Judge) and their father, Casper ten Boom (Dennis Kelly) have a large house/watch repair show. The ten Boom’s are devote Christians from the Dutch Reform Church. They are also fierce Dutch patriots who quickly became members of the Dutch Resistance. Casper and Betsie exhibited compassion and unconditional love for everyone. Betsie even prayed for the Nazis!
Casper wore a yellow star of David in protest to what the Jews were required to display on their clothing. Betsie and Corrie welcomed Jews into their home and allowed a full-proof hiding place to be built in their home. We see how the ten Boom family’s faith and their genuine compassionate love was their only weapon against the injustice of the Nazi’s.
When a Dutch traitor turned the ten Boom family to the Nazi’s, they were all arrested yet the Jews hiding in the secret room escaped capture.
In act two, we witness Corrie quiet resistance to Nazi questioning that impresses Lietenant Rahms. Eventually Corrie and Betsie are relocated to Ravensbruck work camp in Germany. We see how Betsie’s strongly unbending faith influences Corrie who has grown bitter and hateful. Betsie keeps telling Corrie that god has a plan for everyone and that Corrie will be released early in the New year. Betsie’s prediction is accurate.
Corrie, despite being embittered by her unjust experience, devotes herself to helping all victims of the Holocaust after the war. Corrie lived from 1892 to 1983–she was born and died on April 15.
This remarkable dramatic show vividly highlights the power of faith, compassion and love. The ten Boom’s, especially Betsie and Casper had a optimistic view of humanity that made them belief that there is good in every person no matter how evil they may be. The exist and are strengthen by their faith in god and their genuine positive view of man.
As a piece of theatre, Tim Gregory needs to cut the show as it was 3 Hours and 5 minutes with a 90 minute first act and a long intermission to rearrange the set. In act one, a tighter pacing and shorter scenes early on would not lesson out impression of the ten Boom family. I’d also shorten the early prison scenes with Corrie. In act two, I cut some of the torture and physical horrors since we do ‘get’ what horrors the camp guards.
A shorter, quicker pace would only heighten the power and impact of this moving show. Dennis Kelly and Cynthia Judge were magnificent as the faithful, compassionate Christians. Lia Mortensen presented Corrie’s transition from aggressive hatred of the Nazi’s to a faith-based belief in humanity she learned from Betsie. Mortensen’s honest performance anchored the play. There was excellent supporting work from the large ensemble despite so weak dutch accents.
The Hiding Place is a work-in-progress that need judicious cuts and a quicker pace (with a shorter intermission). The early prison scenes and the concentration camp scenes could be condensed without losing the effects of the horror suffered. The essence of a major theatrical work is present here. This different take on the Holocaust is well worth witnessing.
At Provision Theatre, 1001 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL, call 866-811-4111, tickets $25 – $28 with free parking, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 3 hours, 5 minutes with intermission.