Art, history and culture combine in You Will Not Play Wagner, a unique Jewish story which is deeply moving, entertaining and enlightening. It pays homage to the legacy of the Holocaust, of keeping memories alive and sees the Jewish and artistic communities in celebration together.
In her third production with Shalom, Director Moira Blumenthal was drawn to the debate at the centre of the play, should the music of the infamously anti-Semitic Wagner be played today in Israel, home of the largest population of Holocaust survivors, even though it is anathema and taboo?
South African playwright, (Victor Gordon) found it well worth the journey from South Africa to attend the world premiere. His challenge was to find a vehicle to present the debate while steering away from the genre of documentary. Within an Israeli context he used the Wagner situation to illustrate what he had to say and while Wagner optimises the debate, Wagner is incidental. Gordon was inspired by a few pages of a book he read in a bookshop, Avraham Burg’s The Holocaust Is Over; We Must Rise From its Ashes.
Young Israeli conductor Ya’akov (Benedict Wall) plans to perform a Wagner composition in the finals of a famous competition in modern day Tel Aviv on the Kristallnacht anniversary (Night of Broken Glass) on November 9 and 10. 76 year old Esther (Annie Byron) Holocaust survivor and wealthy competition patron will not allow it. What unfolds is an aesthetic debate about music, the message it carries and the cultural/political ramifications. Morris, (Tim McGarry) competition organiser, and Personal Assistant (Kate Skinner) make up the rest of the radiant cast.
Until 28, Various performance times. Eternity Playhouse, 39 Burton St, Darlinghurst. $38-$50. Tickets & Info: www.darlinghursttheatre.com
Reviewed by Mel Somerville.