reading notes + some theatre for good measure

10 02 2009

I’ve got two books on the go right now.  I’m still working through Sacred Games and I really like it so far, and I’m really enjoying how the story keeps branching off into little side alleys and reminisces of the past.  I’m actually enjoy those sections more than the central detective story.  I’d been making good progress with it, but then I took a trip into Toronto and I didn’t want to lug it on the train with me so I selected The Crimson Portrait, one of the books I received for Christmas.  Between the trip into the city and back again on the train, I’ve made it halfway through the book.  Its set during WWI at a hospital for men who facial wounds and I’m finding it a fascinating read though I find the end of each section distracting, almost as if there is this tension being ending too abruptly and with too many revelations.

My trip to the big, bad city was theatre-inspired.  I was lucky enough to see East of Berlin at Tarragon on the weekend.  I missed it last year, waiting about a day too long to buy my tickets so I was glad they remounted it this year.  The play focuses on Rudi, the son of a SS doctor who performed medical experiments on Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz.  He tells his story to the audience, how he discovered the truth about his father’s past and how he has tried to deal with that knowledge, and though there are some scenes with two other key characters, much of the play is direct address by Rudi to the audience, and I was really impressed with the playwright’s ability to sustain monologue and the central character’s connection with the audience so effectively throughout the play.  There’s a lot of humour in the play, which you could tell some people were unsure of how to react to, given the subject matter of the play.  There was an intimacy about the space that worked really well for this play, and Brendan Gall who played Rudi was able to create such a strong connection to the audience, which is important if the play and its implication of the audience witnessing Rudi’s story are going to work.  There was kind of a funny moment at the performance I was at.  A woman in the front row kept coughing because of the cigarette smoke on stage (there was quite a bit of smoking).  At one point she was struggling with unwrapping a candy and the crinkling noise just went on and on and on and it was the second time she’d done that, so Gall – who was right by her at that moment – offered to help her unwrap it.  He handled it really well, and the audience just broke out into spontaneous applause and then the show continued.  I told the Artsy Mama about it and she said she would have walked out if that had happened to her, and I can see how it would be embarrassing, but I also pointed out that she wouldn’t have been crinkling a candy wrapper anyway.  I think she would have been clapping right along with the rest of us.

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