Friday, October 21, 2016
I have long been a fan of the novels of Jean Le Carré. I was thrilled to learn that he had penned this memoir that reveals many of the real world back stories that led to the writing of many of his novels. Not hiding his real name of David John Moore Cornwell, the acclaimed author is quite transparent in revealing aspects of his personal life - during his brief time in the world of espionage and beyond into his long and successful literary career. The final pages of the book are devoted largely to the complex relationship he had with his enigmatic father, a man often in and out of prison for con games and scams.
The fact that this man took a only a handful years of working at a low level within the shadowy world of British espionage and conflated it into a literary career of almost fifty years is an astounding achievement. It is clear from this memoir that hard work in research was wedded to vivid imagination in crafting the dozens of spy novels that have become best sellers. We learn about M15 and M16, the KGB, Yasser Arafat, Sir Alec Guinness as George Smiley, and much more.
This memoir made me appreciate the man behind the pen name, and made me want to re-read many of his best works.
It comes as no surprise that New Rep Artistic Director, Jim Petosa, has chosen "Good" by C.P. Taylor as a production to coincide with our troubled and troublesome Presidential election. The parallels between Germany leading up to the Holocaust and our present Trump-infested political season are obvious. In this play, a "good man," Professor John Halder (An excellent Michael Kaye), has penned a novel inspired by his struggle with his mother who has slipped into dementia. In the novel, he proposes humane ways in which euthanasia may be beneficial for the enfeebled individual and for the beleaguered family try to cope with caring for this person. Adolph Eichmann (the always impressive Benjamin Evett) reads the novel and immediately grasps how this professor could be very useful to the Third Reich. Professor Halder is summoned, and takes the first step down the slippery slope that will lead him to supervise horrors at Auschwitz. As he continues his downward slide into eventually becoming a trusted officer in the SS, complications in his personal life intervene and interrupt the scenes in which he is being groomed to become a senior officer in the dreaded SS. We meet his unhappy wife (a chronically dishevelled and depressed Christine Power), his vivacious and ambitious mistress (an alluring Casey Tucker), his Jewish psychiatrist friend Maurice (the often hysteria prone Tim Spears, because he sees what the future holds for him and his ilk), and Halder's demented mother (the very convincing and unhinged Judith Chaffee). Rounding out the excellent cast are Jesse Garlick as Doctor/Dispatch Rider, Lily Linke as Elizabeth/Sister, Will Madden as Freddie, the SS officer who befriends Halder, and Alex Schneps who does a frighteningly accurate send-up of Hitler in full rant mode.
|Benjamin Evett as Eichmann|
Michael Kaye as Professor Halder
"Good" by C.P. Taylor
New Rep Theatre
Arsenal Center for the Arts
Through October 30th
Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures
Directed by Jim Petosa, Scenic Design by Jyoung Han, Lighting Design by Bridget K. Doyle, Costume Design by Megan Mills and Theona White, Sound Design by Aubrey Dube. Co-produced by New Rep and Boston Center for American Performance. Staged at New Rep Theater, Watertown, MA. through October 30th.
New Rep Website