Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I mentioned a few days ago the play, Lebensraum, that I was going to see. Normally I wouldn't review a production I'm involved with, but I'm only peripherally involved in this one--I'm running the lights for the two shows next Saturday, so having not been through the rehearsal process with it I'm not too attached to it to be objective. But I have seen it three times, so you can be sure I know what I'm talking about.

You've missed the first weekend if you live in Seattle and want to see it, but it's showing next Friday and Saturday at 7:00, and Saturday at 2:00, at the Bathhouse (it's on Greenlake, look up Seattle Public Theater if you don't know it). And it is free! (Though of course accepting donations.) You cannot beat free theatre.

The premise of the play, by Israel Horovitz, is that the chancellor of Germany suddenly has a brainwave and invites 6 million Jews to relocate to Germany. This is of course not well thought out, Germany doesn't have enough jobs as it is, where are they all going to live, and so on. This premise of course brings up the Holocaust and the German relationship to the Holocaust. And it manages to do this extremely well. It is very funny, which I always think is the best way to handle everything. George Bernard Shaw said, "Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh." As one character says, if you don't laugh, you cry. It is not, of course, making fun of any of this awful history, it is simply handling it gently and with humour.

The play was written for three actors, but this production is performed by seventeen. Still, many of the actors play multiple characters. It is a very theatrical play, often with actors narrating the action, and this works very well for it. I was extremely impressed by the acting. This is part of Seattle Public Theater's education program, so all the actors are high school students. Many of them have been acting for years, and are vastly talented. There's also a question and answer/discussion session after the play (which runs about an hour and 40 minutes including intermission), which I think adds to the experience very much.

If you do live in Seattle, go see this. If you don't, look out for someone in your area producing it, and go see it when they do.

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