on June 5, 2015 by test_editor in Coming Events, WEB-EXTRA content, Comments Off on Web-extra (June 4, 2015): Make Room for Forgiveness; A Theatre Review of “Ivan & Adolph, the Last Man in Hell”.

Web-extra (June 4, 2015): Make Room for Forgiveness; A Theatre Review of “Ivan & Adolph, the Last Man in Hell”.

Web-extra (June 4, 2015): Make Room for Forgiveness;
A Theatre Review of “Ivan & Adolph, the Last Man in Hell”.

By Allyson Domanski.

[Ed: A 9th-hour production seen at the GCTC will be at 2 other locations June 17-18]

It’s challenging subject matter, to be sure, a play that name-drops history’s worst tyrants, mass murderers, white-collar criminals and all around creeps. The likes of Genghis Khan, Richard Nixon, Pol Pot and the Marquis de Sade have come and gone; same for Charles Manson, Bernie Madoff and Sadaam Hussein.

Only two remain, tended by a maid who can’t get over how much dust the dead collect. She delivers groceries of Hellman’s mayonnaise, devilled eggs, hot-cross buns and red-hot chili peppers.

The villain addicted to self-deception reads “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” and kills time, centuries of it, playing ‘Battlefield’ video games. Then bragging “I was very popular, you should Google me.” His roommate, an incurable insomniac who downs Smirnoff’s to pass out, rants to the Omniscient known as ‘Management upstairs’ and asks how mercy can be shown to he who hasn’t lost a night’s sleep since arriving. Both ended up in this ungodly place from self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head, that won’t heal until the perpetrators heal themselves, and especially their black hearts which must make room for forgiveness.

The setting is Hell, where the last self-absorbed souls duke it out after even Lucifer has left. They call each other names (“snivelling little worm…pretending to be a hero”) and not only loathe one another, they compete. “You think the killer of ten million people will be the last man in Hell?” yells one. “No, it’ll be the man incapable of forgiveness!” comes a reply. Adolf Hitler can’t be forgiven for his atrocities while Ivan Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s fictional protagonist, can’t forgive for his anger.

It takes good Sophie the maid to remind them to stop making this place so awful. She asks whether hatred is better for all eternity rather than concentrating on someone other than oneself by showing kindness toward each other.

Stephen Vicchio’s “Ivan & Adolf: The Last Man in Hell” premiered in Ottawa on May 28th at the GCTC in Hintonburg. The sublime staged reading by 9th Hour Theatre Company director Jonathan Harris is low on theatrics but high on revelation. It may drag you through the heuristic dregs of inhumanity along the way, but will uplift you in finding humanity among those unconscious of it.

This is a thinking person’s play. The exchanges are gripping, the themes weighty. Conceptually, the understated performance works not only because the text demands one’s full attention but the story’s power is not distracted by staged dramatics. Costuming is spare: blood-bandaged foreheads for both men, a Russian-style cap for bearded Ivan. Only Sophie looks heavenly: a white-aproned French maid in black. The performances, commemorating 70 years since WWII concentration camp liberation, are punctuated by authentic audio clips from Auschwitz survivors, 9/11, Martin Luther King’s assassination. The effect gets under your skin.

David Plouffe transforms from high-school teacher to Holocaust architect, his monstrousness is a study in redemption — and Dr. Phil’s self-help literature. Jeff Lefebvre practically spits his fury with God and Herr Fuhrer, while Jasmine Bowen is reproachful but heartening, a near-perfect rose between two thorns.

FOR TICKETS FOR JUNE 17 or 18: see http://www.9th-hour.ca/


[Ed: Wednesday, JUNE 17 is at Irene’s Pub, 885 Bank Street
Thursday, JUNE 18 is at Pressed, 750 Gladstone Avenue]

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