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November 2003
The Decision - Burton Taylor Theatre
The Chorus and Comrade
The Chorus and Comrade
In their performance of a play that was banned for almost 70 years, the Cambrian Productions actors ask uncomfortable questions of conscience and ideology.
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By Jenny Enarsson

Bertolt Brecht wrote The Decision in 1930. After the play had been interpreted as an apology for totalitarianism and mass murder, Brecht and his family banned it from showing until 1998.

Cambrian Productions have put on an intense and gripping version of this controversial work. The opening scene sees four communist agitators, returning to Moscow after a propaganda trip to pre-communist China, explaining to two of their party superiors why they decided it was necessary to kill one of their own during the trip.

The audience is then taken back and forth in time as the four agitators act out the sequence of events, and as they are quizzed by 'The Control Chorus' - the two functionaries. The cool, calm and collectedness of the two party superiors contrast sharply with the intense passion displayed by the agitators.

Triona Giblin is very good as the desperate young agitator, eventually to be killed by his own, who finds the atrocities around him too severe and too urgent to delay the revolution any longer. Lucy Underwood's smug and ruthless merchant is fantastically creepy, carelessly stating 'I have no idea what a man is. All I have learnt is his price.'

The stage space is used beautifully as the actors move around both behind and in front of the audience, seated in four different places.

Terrifyingly - and this is why the play has been so attacked - everyone agrees in the end that the four agitators did the right thing in killing their comrade. Indeed, the general opinion is that there was nothing else they could have done.

The message is a sinister one. It is made even more chilling by the challenge put to the audience as we are asked 'What would you refuse to do?'

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