East of Berlin at the Southwark Playhouse
Dark, tragic and thought-provoking, East of Berlin explodes in the Southwark Playhouse this summer.
Familiarity with the heart-rending, catastrophic events that followed Weimar Germany during the Third Reich would be beneficial if you are to truly appreciate the sombre beauty of this three-man play.
Jordan McCurrach plays Rudi, the son of a doctor who used inmates at the Auschwitz concentration camp for medical experimentation before escaping to Paraguay with his family. Rudi first learns of his father’s background when his friend Hermann lets it slip one day at school, and from that moment on he struggles to come to terms with his father’s secret life as a war criminal. Later, Rudi moves to Berlin where he meets Sarah, an American Jew whose father was a US war veteran and mother an Auschwitz prisoner at the same time Rudi’s father was a Nazi doctor there.
And herein lies Rudi’s conflict. His increasing desire to distance himself from the horrors of his father’s hidden past brings with it a host of new issues as his relationship with Sarah develops. Rudi is conflicted, confused and in love. Or is there another reason why he is so connected to Sarah? Central to the play is the theme of dealing with the sins of the father. We have to ask ourselves, does Rudi truly love Sarah or is he seeking solace for his father’s offences?
True to the murky topic, the setting is pitch black with just a handful of moveable shelves that double up as bookcases in a library, an office, a house and a flat as the play flits from past to present and from Paraguay to Berlin as Rudi’s backstory unfolds. The lack of setting and props lends to the play’s resemblance of a quasi-drama school improvisation at times. It certainly demands a lot from the actors to develop atmosphere and the audience’s attention in following the events.
Nonetheless, East of Berlin is a powerful play, though much of the intensity emanates from the very obvious and gifted talents of McCurrach. Vulnerable, commanding and anguished in what is almost a one-man play, McCurach delivers lengthy monologues, scene to scene shifts with seamless ease and a natural acting ability. It is almost worth the four stars just for McCurach’s acting ability alone.
East of Berlin is at the Southwark Playhouse until 12th July 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for East of Berlin here: