Hirsch

Hirsch is a well written and brilliantly performed biographical account of the turbulent life of Hungarian director John Hirsch from the perspective of an actor, Alon Nashman, who worked with the influential artist. Hirsch was an orphaned Hungarian Jewish refugee of the third reich, who after years of struggle found sanctity in Winnipeg, Canada. The piece provides a reflective look at the expressive nature of Hirsch’s work, his abrasive style of direction and the story behind it.The show is performed by Nashman alone. This is an hour and a quarter of well crafted performance, with fantastic multi-roling and sharp wit. Nashman had me gripped from start to finish. He encapsulated the bond of refugee-turned-director Hirsch to his beloved theatre with dynamism, control and absolute passion.

Such a performance was combined with a script which struck the fine balance of humour and sincerity very well indeed. This was added to by a fluid minimalist set, making for a slick and compelling piece of theatre. Each piece of the set flows between scenes wonderfully, adding to the visual.

Some moments towards the beginning of the piece, handling Nazi occupation and Hirsch’s flight from Hungary, could have been reworked in order to give them more poignancy. Perhaps if the number of family members portrayed had been reduced and more focus given to the chosen ones, I would have been more invested in the characters. This in turn may have heightened the impact of their various fates - which in reality were paramount to the Hirsch’s drive and gave inspiration to all of his work. Instead, focus was given to the humour of each character above all which I did not feel was necessarily the right decision.

All in all a fantastic, passionate and informative piece of theatre. A shift of focus at the outset of the play may have set it up even better.

Reviews by Joe Talbot

Performances

The Blurb

The smash-hit production direct from Canada's Stratford Festival. Orphaned by war, Hungarian refugee Hirsch finds a new home in the world of theatre, where fierce talent and uncompromising drive propel him to great heights but challenge his existence.