by Douglas Lackey


"Author Douglas Lackey and director Alexander Harrington have managed to extract a thought provoking stimulating performance from two of the most controversial public intellects of the twentieth century: Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), a German-Jewish philosopher and social theorist and Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), one of the most renowned German philosophers to have succumbed to Nazism. The subject of their romantic entanglement, in conjunction with their political trajectories over the course of forty years, from the mid 1920s to 1964, is the dramatic core of this play in a series of 23 concisely scripted scenes." By Beate Hein Bennett. Read the full review.

The Odd Couple of Philosophy: A Play About Arendt and Heidegger
Despite their incompatible viewpoints, two of the 20th century’s greatest philosophers — Martin Heidegger and Hannah Arendt — maintained a lifelong relationship, first as lovers and later as friends. Yet, it’s puzzling how Arendt, a Jew and one of the seminal writers on morality, could continue being so close to Heidegger, who famously supported the Nazis ahead of World War II and never publicly denounced them after it. Baruch College, The Graduate Center

"Arendt-Heidegger: A Love Story," though small scenewise, is huge in its character-driven, thought-provoking ideas, many of which, like racism (both genuine and opportunistic), along with the emergence of right-wing autocratic nationalism, like a virus gone wild, appears to be on the rise around the globe. It is a timely play to say the least.
Read the full review.

This play is mesmerizing in its many now-familiar aspects to our current situation. The casting is perfect, making the story ever so plausible.
Read the full review.

Review by Ronald Gross
New York Theater Buying Guide
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September 30, 2018

BOTTOM LINE: Our highest recommendation! A thoroughly enthralling drama of ideas, romance, and politics – worthy of the great tradition of Shaw and Ibsen. This show will engage your heart and your mind at the deepest levels.

Martin Heidegger and Hannah Arendt were leading intellectuals of the twentieth century. In the 1920s, they had a passionate affair. In the 1930s, Heidegger became an ardent Nazi while Arendt became an ardent Zionist, whose report on the Eichman Trial in Jerusalem in the New Yorker roiled Manhattan’s intellectual world. Nevertheless, after the war, they still continued to correspond and to meet.

The play is first and foremost a compelling love story. It dramatizes the powerful combination of sexual and intellectual attraction. The playwright explains helpfully on the play's website, "Arendt connected with Heidegger physically, emotionally and intellectually. This is a story of a woman in love, no ordinary woman and no ordinary affair."

As a young student, Arendt first seizes her professor’s attention with an act of sexual daring – but by the end of the play she has commanded his deepest respect as the towering philosopher she has become. It’s an unforgettable transit to witness.

Alyssa Simon as Arendt bestrides the stage as she enacts her character from 19-year old prodigy to a premier public intellectual. Simon displays both astounding emotional range and incisive skill in delivering witty zingers.

Joris Stuyck overcomes daunting challenges in portraying Heidegger, since his character was, in life, uncharismatic and unattractive – except on the lecture platform where he mesmerized students. Stuyck make us care about this brilliant but tragically-flawed human being – just as Arendt did in real life. (And “care” was, for Heidegger, a cardinal element in what makes us human, and not merely homo sapiens.)

Special kudos to Stan Buturla as Ernst Cassirer, a third philosopher, who has two show-stopping scenes: a famed debate at Davos in which he defends the great European tradition of rationalism and liberalism against Heidegger’s espousal of the non-rational and nationalistic, and one with Arendt at Princeton, in which he exemplifies more personally, the classic virtues of tolerance and optimism.

Is all this relevant to our present “moment”? Of course it is. As the playwright has noted: “The play explores the possibility that Heidegger’s decision to join the Nazi party and tout Hitler was self-serving. This begs comparison with the determination of so many conservative ideologues, who previously denounced Donald Trump, to support him. History does not repeat, but it instructs. We are living in a time when autocratic nationalism and open racism (both genuine and opportunistic) are re-emerging.”

I and my companions left the theater and spent several hours at a back booth in a nearby tavern, thoughtfully pondering the implications and what we felt called-upon to do – as the TV over the bar reported on the Kavenaugh hearings.

TIP: To “brush up your Heidegger”, treat yourself to the superb 10-minute video by the playwright and director, at, before seeing the show. It’s a gem of an introduction to this rewarding theater piece.

September 27 to October 14, 2018
Theater for the New City
155 First Ave (between 9th and 10th Sts.)
Thurs - Sat at 8:00 PM, Sun at 3:00 PM
$15 general admission, $10 seniors and students
Box office: (212) 254-1109

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