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Ganesh Versus the Third Reich

Friday, 1. June 2012

Ganesh Versus the Third Reich
Director: Bruce Gladwin
Cast: Mark Deans, Simon Laherty, Scott Price, Brian Tilley, David Woods
Part of: Wiener Festwochen

Plot:
A theatre group starts putting on a play about Ganesh (Brian Tilley) who goes to Nazi Germany to try to get back the swastika from the Nazis. As the director (David Woods) forces his vision on the actors, the actors’ various disabilities – ranging from Down Syndrome to Tourette’s – and how the world treats and sees them, take on their own role on stage.

It’s hard to review this play because there’s just so much in it. And that is just one huge compliment, in case that wasn’t clear. It has a sense of humor, but it also gets incredibly intense. And it will definitely stay with me for quite a while.

Ganesh Versus the Third Reich takes a rather tried and tested method of showing the rehearsal for a play as the actual play, immediately forcing us to consider not only the play itself but also the (actually disabled) actors and what the Nazis would have meant for them. While that may not be the most innovative approach, they work it beautifully.

One of the reasons it works so well is that the actors actually not only are actors, but creators of the show, getting to tell their own stories, getting to share their own experiences. In fact, one of the strongest moments of the entire play is when one of them shouts out, “Tell my story. Don’t tell me what to do!”

The other really harrowing scene is when the director-basically-turned-Nazi loses it in the end and attacks one of the actors (Scott Price). It is an incredibly intense scene and together with the soundtrack by Lachlan Carrick it becomes absolutely breathtaking.

Plus the stage design was really ingenious. They used these plastic canvasses whenever they dipped into the play-in-the-play that created a haunted, misty atmosphere that was just a perfect fit.

Summarising: Definitely recommended.

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