Compelling ‘We Will Not Be Silent’ Shows The Chilling Cost Of Righteousness

Gablestage scores again with a haunting production of We Will Not Be Silent, which tells the true story of Sophie Scholl. In 1943, Scholl was a young college student in Germany who stood against the horrors of the time by becoming a leader of the White Rose, a non-violent resistance group opposed to Hitler’s regime. 

And, indeed, it doesn’t take long for the high stakes to set in after Scholl and her brother are arrested for distributing protest pamphlets. Thus, we meet her in the care of interrogator Kurt Grunwald, who tries to convince her first to betray her co-conspirators and later to confess and renounce her actions. 

Because I went in not knowing the history, I was able to walk into it imagining that it might have a happy ending. However, given this situation, one would also be quite right to expect themselves to be in for a devastating evening. And though We Will Not Be Silent is a play that often becomes excruciating as Sophie is tortured, threatened, and demeaned for her courageous actions, it is also a play that is incredibly compelling, especially in Gablestage’s excellently paced and exquisitely suspenseful production. 

As the intelligent Sophie makes a strong and articulate case for her extreme actions and beliefs, making her an intensely likable main character, Grunwald expertly counters her as a fascinatingly complex antagonist. And while Sophie’s eventual wavering on her strong principles in the face of her unthinkable fate makes her more human and relatable than a cardboard hero, Grunwald eventually emerges as the most terrifying sort of villainthe kind who sincerely believes he’s in the right. 

Chillingly, he frames his objections to Sophie’s behavior in terms of loyalty to his country and countrymen no matter the cost, revealing the toxic side of tribalism. When I heard him point out how good Hitler’s reign was for the economy, I couldn’t help but hear echoes of how the actions of a more recent leader were consistently apologized for in the name of his supposed competency in spite of his dangerous rhetoric.

Sophie and Grunwald spar on a stark set designed by Frank J. Oliva for a tight 90 minutes. 

Both leading actors also portray their characters with aplomb, though I noticed that Meredith Casey seemed somewhat overly-affected in at least the earlier moments of the play, though Jason Peck appears to be more natural throughout. However, both eventually excel as their circumstances escalate to increasing intensity.

The only other actor in the play is Bobby Eddy, who is a strong fit as Sophie’s brother Hans. Their brief reunion is an expert touch by playwright David Meyer, which plays with our expectations by sparking our hopes before they are inevitably again dashed.

Another scene in which Sophie and Hans contemplate their mortality is also among the play’s most affecting and memorable. And as the moral and philosophical questions posed by the play deepen ever further, there seemed to be countless profound, quotable lines that presented themselves, and the questions the characters ask about the meaning of their sacrifice are ones that cut deep.


As director Bari Newport notes in her playbill, the public killing of Majidreza Rahnavard for his protest crimes in Iran and the continual scourge of antisemitism and racism make these and the other questions posed by We Will Not Be Silent unfortunately relevant ones. Hopefully, few of us will be faced by choices as impossible as those Sophie faces; but most of us will probably have the chance to speak out against injustice in whatever small ways we can. In advocating for the importance of standing up for others even at an unthinkable cost, this play makes a powerful impressionand for a journey worth taking with the character while you still can before it closes up this January 29th!

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