A very talented cast and a very sad history.
Geoffrey Williams’ (playwright and director) new play is an intimate and scathing reminder of the horror of history that we often forget to remember. Without indulging in the Holocaust as an easy topic to write about, Williams believes “we must actively participate in the ongoing conversation about what happened” and challenges us with the idea that this is more than just ‘a tale’ or ‘a story’, but rather it is history that should not be forgotten.
Following the memoirs of Primo Levi, a Holocaust survivor, Williams explores the concept of memory and how things cannot be unseen, and memories live with us for life. Levi (Marco Gambino) experiences haunting memories as he tries to write his account of the atrocities of Auschwitz and suffers even in his supposed ‘freedom’. Throughout his recollection, he seeks the help of Elijah (played by Alex Marchi) who encourages him to forget but to no avail. We learn of his loss of loved one: Vancia (played by Paula Cassina) and his camaraderie with Null Achtzehn (Eve Niker). Much of the memory is told through conversational monologue by Gambino with occasional flickers into another ‘time or dimension’ created by the actors and Matt Leventhall’s lighting design. It is amazing how Lucy Mason -Lockett’s unchangeable, simple office space can be transformed by the action of the cast to become a harrowing scene of unforgivable horror.
It is hard to write a review on something that I cannot relate to on an immediate level of suffering and scarring experience as did Levi, yet I feel as if I am now in a heightened state of empathy and sadness. We are all aware and educated of the human monstrosity of the Holocaust, but Williams shines a light on the fact that we do not care for it when we are swept up by our consumerist lifestyles; we forget what should not be forgotten. I am by no means saying we should live in the past, but surely, we shouldn’t be so negligent to let our behaviour go unaffected and effectively continue blindly?
The world belonging to Levi, brought to life by Williams and the cast, is history that is an important piece of theatre that I cannot recommend enough – I cannot write an analytical review criticising the work and can only implore you to see it and be changed for yourselves.
Drowned or Saved? is playing at The Tristan Bates until 24 November. For more information and tickets, click here.