Friday, July 22, 2016

Good


Good
by C.P. Taylor
produced by PTP/NYC [Potomac Theatre Project]
directed by Jim Petosa

C.P. Taylor’s play Good traces events in the life of an ordinary German who becomes an SS officer. It presents John Halder, a professor of literature and a writer, as he loses his self to evil step by step. He never decides to move to an evil personal place; he ends up there through a series of selfish decisions. Mr. Taylor shows how good men become evil through rationalization and denial. Halder betrays his mother, his wife and his friend. He ends up taking orders directly from Eichmann as he’s discharged to inspect the camp at Auschwitz.

Good is a tragedy because Prof. Halder’s fate is as inevitable as Oedipus’ fate. But he’s not a tragic hero because he meets no resistance. The only real conflict in the play occurs when the professor’s Jewish friend, Maurice, tries to convince Halder to help him to escape to Switzerland. Halder refuses.

PTP/NYC [Potomac Theatre Project] has just produced Good off-off-Broadway. It’s a marvelous production, meticulously directed and superbly acted. Jim Petosa has directed his cast to deliver their lines allegro; our ears can hardly keep up. His direction is careful in every detail: there’s a minor character, a Nazi, who makes a right angle when he walks. And there’s a creative use of music under the dialogue.

Michael Kaye gives a precise, studied performance as the professor, with meticulous analysis. Each footstep in Halder’s fall is clear. The first time he says “Heil Hitler” he’s hesitant; the second time he’s more enthusiastic. His Professor Halder evades self-awareness single-mindedly. Mr. Kaye takes a simple line like “I’m fine” and makes it a commitment to denial. Tim Spears plays Maurice with equally deft acting technique. These actors have fluid emotional life and expressive physical life.

We miss a strong plot structure in this play; drama is conflict. But we’re engrossed by the skill of the PTP/NYC company. They’ve given us a fine production.

Steve Capra
July 2016