So many 20th-century murders were dubbed "The Crime of the Century" that erstwhile Chicago playwright-turned-Academy-Award-nominated screenwriter John Logan could have made a career from that carnival of mayhem alone — perhaps as a decade-by-decade, true-crime version of August Wilson's celebrated cycle of plays on the African-American experience. As it is, Logan (who won the
"Hauptmann," now in a taut revival with Bohemian Theatre Ensemble under Stephen M. Genovese's nimble direction, also helped kick-start the career of
The second act is more of a perfunctory courtroom drama, though Nathan Randall as Wilentz, the hectoring prosecutor, and Nathan Grant as a series of questionable "expert" witnesses, deliver rat-a-tat portraits of expediency over morality. Chris Amos and Sasha Kraichnan as Charles and Anne Lindbergh provide a glamorous reverse image of Hauptmann and his own stalwart spouse, Anna (Eleanor Katz).
By the time Trager's Hauptmann goes to his final assignation with "Old Sparky," the intimacy of the Heartland Studio handily implicates the audience as part of the tabloid-hungry crowd waiting outside the New Jersey state prison. We will probably never know with any certainty whether or not Bruno Hauptmann was guilty or innocent — but this production of Logan's play, anchored by Trager's magnificent performance, makes it clear that his trial was a travesty.
When: Through April 21
Where: Heartland Studio, 7016 N. Glenwood Ave.
Running time: 2 hours