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NY1 Theater Review: "The Fallen"

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Watching "The Fallen" is a refreshing reminder of the raw power a good play possesses in the hands of an astute director. A big budget is not necessary, nor are star actors or fancy sets. And if the off-off Broadway production at the T Schreiber Studio is limited in resources, it is richly rewarding in drama.

The play by Yasmine Beverly Rana concerns the women who survived the Bosnian War from 1992 to 1995, victims of the systematic rape and forced pregnancies by Serbian soldiers. An estimated 20,000 to 50,000 Muslim women were violated repeatedly and the resulting children were aborted, abandoned or raised in a climate of tortured emotions.

Rana tells her story in six seemingly disparate parts but what appear to be loose threads are cleverly woven together by play's end, yielding a picture that is complete but shattering. Jumping back and forth in time, we see how rape as an instrument of terror becomes a national tragedy. Many of the women threw themselves off rooftops while others lived in a state of shame, and their children, unable to shake their perpetual guilt.

Terry Schreiber directs "The Fallen" with unflinching honesty. He manages to convey the brutality of war with an understanding that no one really wins. And even when it's over, the moral toll on humanity lasts for generations.

The men, depicted during and after the war, are painted in shades of gray -- there is no black and white in this story. And the sad, broken women are multi-dimensional as well. Yet each character, as written and performed, gives us reason by the end for a sense of hope.

Like a foreign film, there's a stark quality to this production, haunting and all too real. Thanks to Ms. Rana and The Fallen's fine company, the Bosnian women emerge from the shadows of history into inescapably sharp focus.

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