Thursday, September 18, 2008

Refuge of Lies

I know I'm jaded, but I've never been so bored by a play dealing with the Holocaust before. In this case, it's the aftermath--some forty years later--when Simon (Drew Dix) comes knocking on Canada's door, demanding that Rudi (Richard Mawe) be extradited to Holland for trial. It's based on a true story (Jacob Luitjen's), but rather than confront the issue of fitting the punishment to the crime (especially as Rudi's a reformed Sunday school teacher), playwright Ron Reed fits the characters to a faux-Miller mold, exploring how the guilt destroys Rudi's mind in a series of increasingly erratic flashbacks. Steve Day's direction does little to help establish the shifts in character, and the actors play each role as if they're recording an audio book: it's lifelessly crisp. The play feels anti-Semitic, too: gentle Rudi is tormented by the menacing "Old Jew" his father warned him about, and Simon just seems angry and vengeful--in other words, evil. Simon dehumanizes Rudi by judging him solely on the past, but Reed dehumanizes all of his characters.

[Read on]

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