Edinburgh Fringe 2017
A young woman rescues a man drowning off a beach in Brazil. Through conversation with a grateful man, she uncovers his innermost thought sand then we see the true horror of his visions as we become part of his rally, part of his justification until the final revelation provides their final solution and he is revealed as to who he is , what he has done and what is fate must be.
A man is saved from drowning by a mysterious woman, Azra’il, the Hebrew Angel of Death, on a beach in Brazil in 1979. Their talk takes them from the event of being rescued through the past he has tried to hide whilst they get interrupted by video images of the carnage for which he was partly responsible. It ends when the mysterious woman exacts exactly what we may have hoped for from the beginning.
Josef Mengele is a monster. If there were children’s books created to depict him, they would warn our children of just how cruel and evil he was. This is hardly a children’s piece nor it is a tale that should be given wholesale to children but what was highly impressive was, that here Mengele was made human again. His childlike look at the world, given theory and hope through an ideology that was once discredited and is now back on the streets in many guises, means we cannot ignore this tale and it is a legacy we ought to be sharing with our children – especially our men children.
The script does not tackle Mengele head on but through a series of three conversations with Azra’il we get a sense of how he came, plausibly, to his views. Once you get on his train, there are not stops and an inevitable destination that ends with those economic contributors to the right and those who are not to the left. The script gives the actors the opportunity to explore the man and ignore the monster; it is that which makes it all the more frightening.
With a polished and accomplished performance from Tim Marriott as Mengele, Emma Zadow as Azra’il is given opportunity to grow and take scenes, sharing and commanding the stage when required. The interplay between both gives the tale a polished quality, the like of which should be the envy of many performers currently getting applauded for knuckle gags – near it and dragging them.
The theatre arts were well employed with the video a particularly poignant piece of testimony that was annoyingly played partly to the ceiling. With a 2/3rds full show this may be doing better than most but it’s a tiny venue and deserves a wider reach.
Mengele served to remind me of the lessons of the past and how ignorant some people are in trying to avoid them for their and our futures. It scared me. And so, it should. This was because half way through I thought – I can see why he got to that thought and it makes sense. Fortunately, it was sense in the cold light of day only to him but the eventual denouement which was needed for us all where he is finally exposed and confronted made me determined to do the same to others who are getting on his train so that I can help them find the stop to get off; such is the power of good theatre, done well.