Friday, August 15, 2008

"The Factory" - Edinburgh Fringe 2008

After our abortive attempt to see "The Factory" by Badac Theatre Company at Pleasance Courtyard on the opening Sunday we made a a special trip through to catch this mid-week. We seem to be having a very war-related based August (Oh! What A Lovely War, Fall, My Grandfather's Great War, How It Ended, Restitution) but this was potentially the most draining experience of them all. How can you do a dramatic piece about the holocaust sensitively?

Even in the queue the scene starts to be set as we're asked to deposit any bags into a trunk. I'm not sure if the stripping of possessions is an intentional mirroring of what happened to those on the way to the death camps, or just due to the space restrictions in the venue, but the former was very much in my mind as we deposited our belongings.

I don't know how successful "The Factory" is in portraying the true experience of those who entered the machinery of the Final Solution; that would be impossible to achieve. However the company does its best to show you the terror and emotional journey of the three nameless Jews being sent to their death and of those involved in achieving this end. Ultimately we all knew we were walking out of there, so there was a natural limit to what they could achieve. We're told at various points that we're witnesses to what happened and not to forget. It's a reminder of horrific events that happened, and that they could happen again.

What you do get is a very personal experience, that will have a different impact on different people. For me, I felt powerless and had to physically stop myself from interrupting the performance on at least 3 occasions. Standing idly by was not easy to do - I would have been interested to see what they would have done if someone had intervened. During the final scene I noted several others who, like me, were avoiding making eye contact with others so that their emotions didn't make themselves too manifest.

Brave and physically demanding performances from the 5 person ensemble leave you slightly disappointed you don't get to show your appreciation for them at the end.

The Factory runs as Pleasance Courtyard until 24 August (times vary)