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Good (Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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What is good and what is evil and who decides? These questions and many others are explored in C P Taylor's gripping play which is directed with flair and an apt sense of detachment by Polly Findlay at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre.

Watching Nazis killing in a workmanlike fashion is not new of course, as many filmgoers can recall Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List taking pot shots at Jewish workers - in between yawns and stretches, as he sees in th morning. But where Good excels is that it takes a similar angle to the film Downfall - in that we are presented with humane depictions. We witness family life, how they respond and more importantly how characters retain their sense of humour in the most extreme circumstances.

Findlay also provides the piece with Dennis Potter style musical pieces. These jar at the beginning of the play but after a while provide the audience with some truly chilling comedy moments. Adrian Rawlins is excellent as Halder as he imbues him with intelligence and 'good' - which enables the audience to become involved with many of the moral arguments of the play.

Kerry Shale is also excellent as Jewish friend Maurice and he has a real flair for black comedy as he swears his way through many scenes, masking the fear at the escalation of the war and the hatred within. Yet in terms of representation - he is far from a victim which is truly refreshing. Madeleine Worrall and Janet Whiteside both bring a sense of ordinariness to Halder's hectic life as his downtrodden wife and ageing mother, respectively. They also provide much needed humour to the piece.

James Cotterill's stunning set design features the oppulence of the Nazi regime and provides the audience with many jaw dropping moments. Charles Balfour's mood changing lighting and Christopher Shutt's evocative sound design add real panache to this thought provoking play.

Taylor does come full circle with his writing - which does leave the audience with a sense of déjà vu halfway through the second act and this is a 'heavy' night out. But, thanks to solid direction and sterling performances - Good still has the power to shock and cause many a heated debate on the way home.


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