A genocide scholar who specializes in tracking down former Nazis online to hear out their stories makes a discovery that could dramatically impact her academic career.
Should you see it?
For a play about the Holocaust, Corpus is surprisingly funny. I wouldn’t call it a light play – the subject matter is still quite heavy, since it deals with a woman whose livelihood involves talking to people who have done terrible things – but I had a lot more fun that I thought I would. Corpus approaches its subject matter in a way that is equal parts romantic comedy, historical drama and sociological deconstruction.
Megan is just your average hopeful genocide scholar living in the shadows of her well-known academic supervisor, until the day a hacker with a crush on her provides information that could rocket Megan to stardom in her academic domain – proof of an amorous relationship between a Nazi and a Jewish prisoner towards the end of World War II.
The first act is masterful in its build-up and Darrah Teitel’s script is smart and well-written from the beginning. It’s engrossing mostly thanks to Colleen Sutton and Eric Craig’s performances as Eva, a Nazi officer’s wife, and Eli, the prisoner who has been told to teach her Polish. The tension is palpable between them and their chemistry is off the charts, making all of the flashbacks a treat. Sascha Cole brings a lot of fun to her neurotic, frantic performance as Megan. Daniel Sadavoy as her German internet lover Heinrich is probably the most charming stalker ever, portraying an amusing mix of teenage-like impetuousness and unconditional love for Megan’s brilliance. They have a wonderful rapport, which is impressive when you consider that they are never in the same room or even the same country at any point during the play.
The second act isn’t quite as strong, and fizzles compared to the firecracker of a first act. Despite a shocking development that turns Megan’s world upside down, the final scene feels almost like too little, too late. At that point, all the suspense has been wrung out of the tale taking place in 1944 because we already know how it ends, and I didn’t feel invested enough in Megan’s self-identity struggles to be as affected as I wanted to be.
However, the world premier of Corpus is still worth seeing. Its characters and plot feel like a breath of fresh air, and definitely made for something different than I expected. Bronwyn Steinberg’s dynamic direction keeps the action engaging, and it features some unique staging. Audience members were seated on both sides of the set, which is divided into four sections; Eva’s kitchen in 1944 Auschwitz, the living room of the much older Eva, Megan’s office and Heinrich’s basement. Two screens at either end of the stage come in handy to visually depict Heinrich and Megan’s online romance. It may feel like you’re watching a tennis game, but it creates an interesting dynamic and indicates the space between them. It’s a great element in a set design that is very strong overall.
If you’re looking to see something new, Canadian and a little out of the box, Corpus is sure not to disappoint.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d like to hear what you think. Do you disagree with me about the second act? Let me know in the comments below!
Corpus runs at the Arts Court Theatre until May 10th. For more information, check out our preview article.