Goodness

Lyn Gardner

Friday August 18, 2006

Guardian

Michael is a writer and Canadian Jew who depresses even his own shrink. After a messy divorce, he travels to Poland hoping to tease out the truth of what happened to many members of his family during a Nazi massacre 60 years previously. When the Poles prove less than forthcoming, he decides to head home - but, during a stopover in London, he falls into conversation about the Holocaust with a stranger in a bar. The man tells Michael to go and see Althea, who, he says, can answer his question. "What is my question?" asks Michael. "Why do good people rush to do evil?" comes the reply.


 

What follows is an account of a relatively recent genocide that took place in an unnamed country, and the attempt by a zealous young lawyer, Stephen, to bring the architect of that genocide, Mathias Todd, to account through the courts. Todd appears to have Alzheimer's, but Stephen is convinced that he is faking it, and is prepared to take drastic steps to prove it. In the process, the innocent will suffer - just as they have suffered before.


 

The question posed in Goodness has been asked many times - most notably by CP Taylor - but Michael Redhill's knotty play is compelling, particularly in Ross Manson's disarmingly simple and beautifully acted production, which is threaded through with laments from around the globe.

The problem is that while the question alone would have been sufficient, Redhill tries to dress it up with all sorts of distracting and tricksy framing devices. Redhill himself even appears in a subplot that only detracts from the main thrust of the play with its emphasis on the author and the audience's responsibility.


 

It's a great pity, because there is enough here already to make you confront your own slippery sense of morality without all the theatrical game-playing.

 

Friday August 18, 2006

Guardian

Michael is a writer and Canadian Jew who depresses even his own shrink. After a messy divorce, he travels to Poland hoping to tease out the truth of what happened to many members of his family during a Nazi massacre 60 years previously. When the Poles prove less than forthcoming, he decides to head home - but, during a stopover in London, he falls into conversation about the Holocaust with a stranger in a bar. The man tells Michael to go and see Althea, who, he says, can answer his question. "What is my question?" asks Michael. "Why do good people rush to do evil?" comes the reply.


 

What follows is an account of a relatively recent genocide that took place in an unnamed country, and the attempt by a zealous young lawyer, Stephen, to bring the architect of that genocide, Mathias Todd, to account through the courts. Todd appears to have Alzheimer's, but Stephen is convinced that he is faking it, and is prepared to take drastic steps to prove it. In the process, the innocent will suffer - just as they have suffered before.


 

The question posed in Goodness has been asked many times - most notably by CP Taylor - but Michael Redhill's knotty play is compelling, particularly in Ross Manson's disarmingly simple and beautifully acted production, which is threaded through with laments from around the globe.

The problem is that while the question alone would have been sufficient, Redhill tries to dress it up with all sorts of distracting and tricksy framing devices. Redhill himself even appears in a subplot that only detracts from the main thrust of the play with its emphasis on the author and the audience's responsibility.


 

It's a great pity, because there is enough here already to make you confront your own slippery sense of morality without all the theatrical game-playing.