-Wednesday July 28 2004

I Can Cry!

production info

by: Miri Ben-Shalom

management: Act Provocateur International

cast: Emma Paterson, Erene Kaptani, Marcel Stoetzler

director: Andy McQuade

run time: 1hr 30mins

Production information can change over the run of the show.

'Harrowing' is a term much overused these days, one might argue, and there is a certain, grim satisfaction at the realisation that here is a play that actually earns the epithet - not only through its subject matter, a concentration camp survivor's real-life story, but also the eerily matter of fact way of its presentation.

Speaking from her sitting room in the present, elderly Ester Herschberg begins a narrative, taken up by her younger self, of the six years that chart her dark journey from a plucky teenager in pre-war Poland to skeletal survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. Subtitled 'a theatrical documentary', Miri Ben-Shalom's play is precisely that - two performers narrate from strictly defined zones that are rarely permitted to overlap, while a third makes brief appearances to add tension. It is anything but a static experience, however, and key to this is the energy Emma Paterson brings to the young Ester, avoiding sentimentality by projecting her ever-present vulnerability without compromising her inner strength. The effect has the audience veering between gut-wrenching sympathy and the urge to cheer her on.

Meanwhile Erene Kaptani creates a strong portrayal of the old Ester and she responds well to the odd decision to cast an actress in her twenties to play a septuagenarian. If a little scruffy, Marcel Stoetzler bursts in at key points in Nazi uniform to stride about in jackboots and threaten the occasional mock execution.

Director Andy McQuade makes little impact but there is really no blame here since Ben-Shalom's format leaves little room for manoeuvre. Most suited for the educational circuit, the value cannot be underestimated of this intelligent plea that we should never forget.

Nick Awde


I Can Cry
Act Provocateur International
Amidst all the fun and frivolity of the Fringe lies a sobering tale of the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of a Jewish woman, who we follow on her harrowing journey through several concentration camps. If you are prone to crying at sad adverts, I'd recommend a man-size box of Kleen-ex for this show. I Can Cry is a return to sobriety, a reminder of the suffering endured by these hungry souls and bodies battling to survive against the odds. The play tells a true story and is recommended to those interested in seeing a passionate and moving performance.

August 2004