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Theater review: 'More Lies About Jerzy' at the Hayworth Theatre [Updated]

June 4, 2010 | 10:01 am

400.image001 Long before James Frey ticked off Oprah, Jerzy Kosinski excited controversy  with “The Painted Bird,” a novel that Kosinski slyly promoted as an autobiographical account of his own childhood in Poland during its occupation by Nazi Germany.  When it was alleged that his “personal” experience was largely fabricated, Kosinski’s career was forever tarnished.  Accusations of plagiarism further plagued Kosinski, who committed suicide in 1991. [Updated: A previous version of this review wrongly characterized the country where Jerzy Kosinski grew up as "Nazi Poland."]

Was Kosinski liar or embellisher, literary thief or literary genius?  The continuing debate fuels Davey Holmes’ “More Lies About Jerzy,” now at the Hayworth.

Considerably shortened since its 2001 premiere, Holmes’ deft drama is a fictionalized look at a man who falls from grace for fictionalizing his own life – a neat meta-theatrical exercise that examines the sometimes cannibalistic nature of creativity.

Although Holmes has changed the characters’ names, the play roughly follows the arc of Kosinski’s pyrotechnical rise and sputtering fall.  Holmes’ thinly-veiled stand-in for Kosinski, Jerzy Lesnewski (Jack Stehlin) is a newly famous author and voracious womanizer, a regular on the talk show circuit as well as in New York’s flourishing sex clubs, circa the early 1970s. When a formerly supportive journalist (Adam Stein) exposes inconsistencies in Jerzy’s work, the vultures circle.

Under the direction of David Trainer, Stehlin is, quite simply, luminescent.  Although certainly able, his fellow performers spin in his blazing orbit like lesser satellites. An exception amongst the workmanlike cast, Kristin Malko, who plays Jerzy’s young lover, loses the trajectory of her character early on.  However, any such minor failings are eclipsed by Stehlin’s immense performance.

–F. Kathleen Foley

“More Lies About Jerzy,” Hayworth Theatre, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.  8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays.  Also May 23, 3 p.m. Ends June 26.  $25. (323) 960-7788.  www.CircusTheatricals.com/Tickets.html. Running time:  1 hour, 30 minutes.

Photo: Jack Stehlin and Kristin Malko. Courtesy of Hayworth Theatre.

 
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Ms. Foley's review of More Lies About Jerzy should spark a good discussion about other falisfied holocaust memoirs. But I'm concerned right now about her use of the phrase "Nazi Poland" in her lede.

This was probably an oversight, but the correct phrase, here, should be "German occupied Poland."

I fully agree with Mark. The author not only forgot about the word "occupied" between the word "Nazi" and "Poland" (to read "Nazi occupied Poland)", but also misspelled Kosinski's name twice. Please correct these errors!!!

I'm more concerned about calling this a "review." This is one of the worst theatre reviews I have ever read.

5 paragraphs total. 4 describing the story + about Stehlin. I'm sure he was brilliant. But what of the rest of the production? Was there a set? Lights? Sound? Was there a director? Comment on the production FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

who's the ignorant author of this article anyway? "Nazi Poland"? go to college, lady

NAZI POLAND??? Your paper's reputation will be forever tarnished by
publishing such blatant falsehoods!

I appreciated that you have corrected that little mistake ( "nazi Poland").
It shows your professionalism which can be admired. It is very hurt full when your country is being so wrongly described as "nazi Poland" when in fact Poland was so brutally treated by Adolf's Hitler Germany.

Almost as brutally as by communist Russia of Josef Stalin which invaded Poland only two weeks after Hitler's army enter polish territory.

Stalin's and Hitler's soldiers on 22nd of September 1939 organized parade together in polish city Brześć (Brest).

History speaks for itself but sometimes it needs to be reminded...


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