In these days of tightened belts, a good revival is a way for a theatre company to entertain audiences while also watching its pennies.
The Tarragon is bringing back Hannah Moscovitch's East Of Berlin, the story of a troubled young man who discovers his father was a Nazi concentration camp doctor. His problems mount when he gets involved first with a male friend and, later, a Jewish woman guarding her own secrets. Director Alisa Palmer talks about how to keep a remount spinning. See Continuing.
What first drew you to the script?
Hannah's writing. She cuts to the chase, surprises me with the story's boldness. Her characters are troubling; she's an inspired student of human behaviour, warts and all, and knows that the warts are the best parts. Her writing is theatre writing: it needs other artists to succeed and makes lots of room for them.
In what way did the show connect with audiences first time around?
The play is absurd and mortal, like life. And there's unusual sex and unusual sightlines. When people have to work to see the sexy bits, it's always more meaningful.
What did you learn from the first production of East Of Berlin?
That an intimidating set like designer Camellia Koo's can be an asset.
What's different about the show this time around?
We are all more assured and relaxed. Relaxed actors can dig deeper.
How do you direct actors you've previously directed in the same production?
Is a remount harder or easier than a new production?
They're equally hard. A remount is less exposing, less a shock to the system, but it's a more intimate experience.
Have you ever been to Berlin or east of it?
Ich bin nicht eine Berliner, but I am married to a German. The title refers to the Nazi death camps, and, no, I've never visited them.