Badac Theatre Company's new production "The Devoured" is a one-man show that aims to highlight the pain and suffering that was endured by a normal Jewish family during The Holocaust. It begins from the moment their city is invaded and follows them through to their destruction at the hands of the S.S. within the death camp at Auschwitz.
The play explores the different types of violence and humiliation used against the Jewish population across Europe on a daily basis.
The story is told by the father at his moment of liberation from the death camp at Auschwitz. He tells it directly to the audience as he takes them through each stage of his journey describing the invasion of his city, the imprisonment of him and his family in the Grodno Ghetto, their transfer to the transit camp at Kielbasin, their deportation by train to a "work camp" in Poland, their arrival at Auschwitz and finally the destruction of his family.
We experience the pain and guilt felt by this man who feels he is to blame for the destruction of his family. He feels that he should have done more to protect them and that it is because he didn't that they are now gone.
Through his memories and intense physical, emotional and psychological journey we see the process used by the NAZI's to both de-humanize and ultimately destroy the Jewish population of Europe.
The Devoured will preview at The Nightingale Theatre in Brighton on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th July and at The West End Centre in Aldershot on Thursday 30th July at 8.00pm as part of its preparation for its run at the 2009 Edinburgh Festival where it will be performed at The Pleasance Courtyard, Over the Road 3 from Wednesday 5th August through to Monday 31st August (not 17th or 24th) at 13.45 (ends at 14.45).
Please contact Steve Lambert at Badac Theatre for all booking enquiries
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THE SCOTSMAN ****
Badac Theatre Company seem to specialise in endurance testing theatre. "Don't expect to enjoy yourself" could be their mantra. The fact their plays increasingly revolve around the Holocaust pretty much ensures they get their way, at least regarding that. However, sometimes not having fun can be surprisingly life-affirming.
As with last years controversial The Factory, you should expect to be verbally assaulted and challenged, but this time (and this will come as a relief to some) it's less of an interactive experience, more a traditionally structured monologue. The stronger focus on narrative makes the piece all the more sophisticated yet no less powerful.
Written and performed by Steve Lambert, the piece charts a Jewish man's journey against a chilling backdrop - the rise of the Nazis in Germany, and the genocide of the Holoocaust.
It's a story we all know well, but one that hasn't been told like this before. Indeed, knowing the ending just makes things all the more horrific.
Lambert is a thoroughly focused, exemplary performer who puts himself through what seems like a horrendous ordeal in order to convey the plays harrowing tale.
It's a rare thing to feel so invigorated by a one-man play, but Lambert has an awe-inspiring strength that pushes the monologue form to a new level.
There's much debate over creating Holocaust themed work purely to shock and appal, which obviously it always does. The subject is taught in schools and featured in films, so it can seem like there is little left to add. "The Holocaust was a terrible, shameful thing" is a very true, but none the less very obvious thing to say.
However, this piece does something many others of a similar kind don't - it shows a Holocaust victim emblazoned with raw anger at what is happening to him and his family. This absolute fury feels empowering, despite the fact our hero is torn apart by agonising helplessness and self hate. We learn little about him beyond his immediate situation, but this anger does all it needs to - it makes him human.
A show called The Devoured wasn't ever likely to be bags of fun. And within minutes of taking our seats, we're given hell by a man in ripped pyjamas for our 'cowardice' at abandoning his family to the jaws of 'the beast'.
Following Badac's controversial promenade horror The Factory last year, which had ticket holders waiting for their 'deaths' at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the company returns there. Written and exhaustingly performed by founder Steve Lambert, it's a more traditional monologue piece, and one that spits rage.
Using brutal, rhythmical verse, Lambert is an unnamed Jew who recounts the systematic dehumanisation suffered by his family, from the invasion of their town to their swift incarceration in a ghetto and their dreadful end in the extermination camp. It's utterly ruthless, Lambert's punching, repetitive lines evoking the panicked, looping thoughts of a family protector rendered impotent.
Though something of an endurence test -for actor and audience - this is more than a ghoulish Holocaust spectacle. From the human rights organisations listed on the programmeto Lambert's sweat shower, there's a desperate sincerity and passion involved here. And despite appearances, there is hope: Lambert's furious, staccato account of survivor guilt hinting that anger is a first step to re-empowerment.