A lot of words can be used to describe John Hirsch: Controversial, eccentric, original, intimidating, a colossus. However this is only half the story.
He fought through the horrific tragedy of being a Hungarian refugee during the holocaust after losing all his family to the German regime. But despite this terrifying start in life, he became one of the most influential directors of all time and revolutionised the Canadian theatre scene till the day he died in 1989.
This play is a homage to the man who created so many iconic pieces and inspired thousands of directors, including the director of this piece, Paul Thompson. Alon Nashman is fantastically versatile in this play; he almost seems schizophrenic with the amount of multi-roling he uses. A variety of accents, mannerisms and emotions come flooding out of each character, though this does not seem laboured or cumbersome but effortless and unquestionable.
Other than Nashman there is only one other performer, a stage hand, who assists in costume and set changes but can be seen as Hirsch’s whipping boy, something which the protagonist refers to himself near the end of the play.
‘Hirsch’ is an intelligent play that requires concentration the whole way through, though the endearing character of the narrator does make this easier. There are so many characters being performed all at once… at one point there was a conversation between four people (with only one on stage). Despite this being very impressive, it makes for a more challenging watch. Nevertheless, one to certainly go and see.
Reviewed by Bethan Hastelow. Images courtesy of Pleasance.