UK Theatre Network
I didn’t make many notes when I saw Goodness at the Traverse Theatre, because I spent much of the time with my knuckles in my mouth trying not to make a sound as I sobbed
silently. This is an incredibly moving piece of theatre about our ability as human beings to turn love into hate and good into evil. In fact, it is a stunning piece of theatre directed by Ross Manson that is thoroughly modern in conception but which draws on age-old theatrical devices such as the use of song and a chorus. The play is a tour de force of theatrical invention as the playwright as central character takes us through a story that he isn’t supposed to tell us about a genocide and murder trial in the homeland of a woman called Althea, who he met through a string of coincidences that occur during his search for justice after his wife has left him for his best friend. The characters that people the story step in and out to play out scenes as they happened, or as they are remembered, or as they are retold – we are never quite sure - and in the layers of reconstruction we begin to realise it is impossible to know the truth. There is nothing simple about this story, other than the exposure of truths we would much rather leave hidden – that an excess of love can lead to hate, and that good people can rush to do evil. Although the characters are elusive – actors slip in and out of their roles to comment on what the playwright is doing, or to become another character in the story - there is nothing detached in the performances. It is this highly talented ensemble's committed portrayal of each individual’s suffering that brought on the tears, that and the choral singing of heartbreaking laments, which are guaranteed to move you. The writing is bold and brave and intricately weaves the myriad stories together, Michael Redhill is a master craftsmen with thought and emotion as his raw materials. The close attention he pays to the personal and domestic is what makes this so much more than a story of an atrocity. In recounting the loss of her family, Althea exclaims “how is it possible that this very morning I made bread with my sister and now I wait with her in the dark?” and the present reality of the writer’s wife’s betrayal pulls us constantly back to those powerful emotions that are present in the everyday, the very same emotions that could drive us to commit an act of atrocity, or allow one happen. “What would you have done?” is the question that bounces off the walls of the theatre and ricochets inside your head long after you have left the auditorium. This is theatre that will reveal yourself to yourself, miss it at your peril.