Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Last night I went with my dad to see Antony Sher in the Broadway production of Primo, a rough adaptation of Primo Levi's book Survival in Auschwitz (originally called If This Is a Man). The book is often compared with Elie Weisel's Night. I always thought that Levi's book was much starker, much more raw and austere. The book had little in the way of literary flourish or fluff.

The one-man show was the same way. It was roughly a retelling of the story of Levi's tenure in Auschwitz. There was no complex cast interaction, no scenery, beyond the stark walls of a concentration camp and a chair, no fancy costumes. Sher delivered a very good performance. The words rolled off his tongue and he came off like a man resigned to his fate as inmate in a death camp. There was little in the delivery that attempted to evoke a response, leaving that almost entirely to the content.

One powerful moment was when he refers to two people in the context of an interview and states that because of one trivial incident he forever judges them. It was then that the audiences feels the pain of Primo Levi.

There are other memorable phrases from the play (and book) which stick out. He once sees a man praying, thanking God that he was saved from the selection that week. That struck Levi as so absurd. He says that if he were God and he heard that man praying, he would spit in his face.

Thw whole show was 90 minutes, and there was wisely no intermission. It was memorable and worth seeing.

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