Berlin

Joanna Murray-Smith and the snares of history
Melbourne Theatre Company
by
ABR Arts 26 April 2021

Berlin

Joanna Murray-Smith and the snares of history
Melbourne Theatre Company
by
ABR Arts 26 April 2021
Grace Cummings as Charlotte and Michael Wahr as Tom in Berlin (photograph by Jeff Busby)
Grace Cummings as Charlotte and Michael Wahr as Tom in Berlin (photograph by Jeff Busby)

Berlin, by Joanna Murray-Smith, is an intense, very wordy, imperfectly plotted, but nonetheless stylish play. ‘Stylish’ is a strange word to describe a play about young love sabotaged by tragic secrets and the legacy of the Holocaust. Shouldn’t it also be ‘heart-breaking’, ‘harrowing’, or at least ‘poignant’? Perhaps, but ‘stylish’ is the right word for a play – a thriller, in fact – that is also a swiftly argued essay on the difficulties faced by sensitive and ethical individuals who want to free themselves from the snares of history to make a new future.

Here, as in earlier works, Murray-Smith frets her text with the glitter of a cool cosmopolitanism. The dialogue swerves – credibly enough – from the politics of contemporary art to an eloquent commentary on public monuments, from the poetry of Emily Dickinson to the repatriation of colonial-era artefacts. It’s the sort of play where retro chic punk music sits comfortably next to a spine-tingling string quartet. And there are plenty of witty snapshot observations – mostly sardonic in tone – of life in contemporary Berlin, with its tourists and artists and hipsters and migrants.

Comment (1)

  • Posted by leo
    29 April 2021

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.