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“Sense of Decency”: A Theatrical Exploration of Fascism Through the Nuremberg Trials

The Dramatic Rendition of a Historical Confrontation

“Sense of Decency” premieres at North Coast Repertory Theatre, transforming Jack El-Hai’s gripping 2013 book into a compelling stage drama. The play delves into the intense interactions between U.S. Army psychiatrist Dr. Douglas M. Kelley and notorious Nazi leader Hermann Göring during the Nuremberg trials. This theatrical piece, co-directed by Jake Broder and David Ellenstein, presents a psychological thriller that explores the depths of human morality and the dark corridors of power.

Historical Insights and Modern Reflections

Set against the backdrop of post-World War II Germany, the narrative of “Sense of Decency” serves as a poignant reminder of the roots of fascism and authoritarianism. The play examines these themes through the lens of the historical figures involved, making it relevant to contemporary discussions about political power and moral integrity. As the characters grapple with the complexities of their roles, the audience is invited to reflect on the broader implications of these historical events in today’s sociopolitical climate.

A photo of U.S. Army psychiatrist Douglas M. Kelley, who passed away in 1958.A photograph of U.S. Army psychiatrist Douglas M. Kelley, who passed away in 1958. (Courtesy of the Douglas family)

Nazi leader Hermann Göring, who died by suicide in 1946 while awaiting execution for war crimes.Hermann Göring, the Nazi leader, tragically took his own life in 1946 while awaiting trial for war crimes. (Courtesy of the Douglas family)

Collaboration and Creative Process

The development of “Sense of Decency” benefited greatly from a close collaboration between playwright Jake Broder, historian and author Jack El-Hai, and the artistic insight of David Ellenstein. This partnership ensured the historical accuracy and emotional depth of the play, enriching the portrayal of its characters. The involvement of Douglas Kelley Jr., the son of the psychiatrist, added a personal dimension to the research, further enhancing the authenticity of the narrative. As the play unfolds, it promises to engage audiences with its dynamic storytelling and profound themes, making it a must-see theatrical event this season.