It wasn’t at all what we expected – then again, little surrounding the love story of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas was scripted, either – but Betty Jean Steinhouer, who has made a career out of occupying the personalities of strong authors – certainly makes for a credible representative of her muse. The play – which was not given its full breadth at our press screening, but rather a candid, in-character Q&A treatment – centers, naturally, on the droll and heavy breaths of a couple somewhat calloused by the rise of Adolf Hitler and the expanse of World War II. Much of what me know about Stein is guarded and not terribly sentimental, but always leaning on the side of intellect over emotion.
Gertrude Stein Has Arrived seeks to humanize a character often lost in the shuffle of the Holocaust, the attacks from Germany on France, America’s initial inaction in the war and the French Resistance, her relationship with Alice B. Toklas. Stein, however, was a pivotal force – even an inexplicable force of nature – throughout the Jewish lesbian couple’s turmoil in the early 1940s. Stein would go on to do post-war radio appearances in the same Paris she had been force out of by German might.