Our Class

Clearly all directors in Toronto got together when planning their seasons and decided the audience was too cheerful and needed to be reminded that evil happens in the world. Tough going for a Friday evening, but well worth seeing.
Our class is the story of a class of Polish schoolchildren who are all friends, even though some are Jews and some are Poles. The Nazis arrive and friendship is sacrificed. The eventual result is the death of 1593 of the 1600 Jews who lived in the town of Jedwabne.
Petty jealousy, fear, greed, hypocrisy, and the chance to get ahead at someone else’s expense. All played a part, as did mob psychology. It seems clear that people who would never commit crimes on their own can be driven to horrible actions by the group. The pattern is not unique to Jedwabne – consider Rwanda, the Congo, Cambodia – recent history is full of this behaviour.
The play is staged very effectively, with only chairs as props. The children sing and dance to set the scene, and grow up slowly in front of you. The director makes very effective use of the chorus to carry the narrative, interspersing it with direct address to the audience as various characters tell their story. As each character dies, he/she moves a chair to the back of the stage and sits as witness to the rest of the story.
In spite of the tragic nature of the actioins, there are moments of humour – when the rabbi lists his chldren and their descendants ( a direct contrast to the earllier list of the relatives who were murdered.) Marianna’s comments about her happiness in the senoris residence are also very funny.
there is a full spectrum of human behaviour portrayed – the good, the bad and the survivors who were either lucky,(Abram), pragmatic (Rachelka/Marianna) or conniving and ready to seize the main chance (Zygmunt and Heneik.
A very solid cast – many of them unknown to me, other than Jonathan Goad (I am not used to hating him, but he played the worst of the characters) and Jessica Greenberg who played Marianna. Michael Rubenfeld as Abram was very effective, but really there were no weak performances.


About cathyriggall

Theatre junkie, who thinks live theatre is the ultimate form of living on the edge. You never know what will happen when an actor steps on the stage.
This entry was posted in CAnstage 2011, Jessica Greenberg, Jonathan Goad, Studio 180. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Our Class

  1. Keith says:

    I'll be brief:I agree – I am tired of how depressing everything has been lately, but this was excellent – good play, good production, good performances.

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