In Hannah Moscovitch’s East of Berlin, presented by the Great Canadian Theatre Company, seventeen year-old Rudi Klausner learns the truth of his father’s involvement as a camp doctor at Auschwitz in World War II and spends years trying to understand and to escape the sins and legacy he’s inherited.
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Still not sure if you should see it? Check out our video and photo preview of East of Berlin.
For full show details including show time and how you can buy tickets, visit the Great Canadian Theatre Company website.
What did you think? What hold does history, or should history, have over us and our lives? Were you taken in by Rudi’s struggles? Tell us in the comments below.
And for those love the sweet smell of electronically rendered words, here’s the review script in print form:
Rudi Klausner is a German expat who grew up in South America the son of a German Soldier in World War II. When Rudi turned seventeen, he learned a secret that gave him a big hate-on for dear old dad and pushed him to spend his adult life trying to escape his father’s legacy. Turns out, his father was a camp doctor at Auschwitz and responsible for some pretty heinous things.
Hannah Moscovitch’s East of Berlin opens with Rudi returning home to Paraguay and to his father after years of being away. There, Rudi recounts for the audience the key moments in his life that drove him to leave and eventually brought him back to the place he’d just as soon never have returned to.
In this Great Canadian Theatre Company presentation of East of Berlin, Rudi is portrayed by Simon Bradshaw who masterfully carries Rudi’s turmoil, the history behind it, and the very pulse of the audience in his hands for the entire run of the play. And if dealing with the fact that your father is a wanted war criminal isn’t enough of an inner struggle, add in that Rudi falls madly in love with a Jewish girl and that somewhere, deep down, he kind of still loves his father despite it all.
Backing Bradshaw up on stage are Catherine Boutin and Pierre Antoine Lafon Simard as Sarah and Hermann, both key figures in the major events of Rudi’s life. Sarah is the aforementioned Jewish girl who falls for Rudi not knowing his real heritage and Hermann is more or less the foil to Rudi’s happiness, opening his big mouth at all the wrong times. Both actors do excellent work in their roles and succeed in making you feel each character’s individual struggles.
You should go into East of Berlin knowing that it’s meant to keep you on edge. The sound design works as an unsettling background score in certain scenes and the wonderful Ivo Valentik-designed set, with it’s skewed walls and support beams, were both designed to work in concert with the subject matter and strong performances to keep you from getting too comfortable.
And, if you have a weak bladder, make sure you don’t drink anything before sitting down for the show. It runs an hour forty and there’s no intermission – a decision that works because the lack of intermission keeps you from having any time to catch your breath or settle your thoughts until the show is finished. Once the lights go down, you belong to Bradshaw’s Rudi, both his highs and his lows, until the curtain.
Kudos to director Joël Beddows and his cast for a MUST. SEE. SHOW. The GCTC presentation of East of Berlin runs until April 8th.
Photo for this article taken for Production Ottawa by Production Ottawa photographer, David Pasho.
Video production courtesy of Valley Wind Productions, produced by Allan Mackey.
Reviewed by Allan Mackey with on camera presentation by Meghan Murphy.