Review by Kitty and Beth Higgins, Sarah McConnell, and Clare Duffy, all of Holy Rood RC High School, Edinburgh,
Kitty Higgins: Attending 'Ganesh Versus the Third Reich' was a thrilling and enjoyable way to spend my Sunday afternoon. The play is telling a story of four people with disabilities and one person without disabilities putting on a production based upon the idea of an Indian God coming down to reclaim the swastika as theirs and reinstate it as a symbol of peace instead of hatred and their rehearsals for this piece.
As an audience it can be confusing to get to grips with but does not take long to understand what is happening with the play and what is their reality. At points, because of the disabilities, it can be hard to understand the dialogue but it does not in any way take away from the performance. It is unexpectedly comical especially when it shows the characters in rehearsal, as it shows them becoming part of a team and bonding with one another which is especially heart-warming. There are points when the production takes a dark turn and has the audience on the edge of their seats with anticipation building up. The set for the drama was very cleverly done using minimal props - it was instead clear curtains drawn across to create illusions of forests and trains etc.
But perhaps the best part of the play was the use of German intermittently throughout with English subtitles, it was incredible to see these young disabled people performing in German and English with such ease. An amazing production highly worth a visit to the Lyceum to see.
Beth Higgins: Ganesh Versus the Third Reich is a story about a group of actors trying to put on a play about the Indian God Ganesh coming down to earth and trying to reclaim the swastika from the Nazis and take it back to the Gods. Within the play you see the actors rehearsing and creating the play. Four out of the five actors in the play are disabled. This does occasionally affect the understanding of what the actors are saying but it over all leaves you with a greater understanding of the play and it gives a deeper meaning to the words and message of the play. The play is very comical but also is able to be serious when it was appropriate to be so. This made the play very enjoyable and worked well. The set design was very interesting. The play opened with an empty stage and was transformed into trains and forests by the use of clear plastic curtains that had been painted and were brought on and off by the actors while lights were shone through them to create shadows and an effect of moving. They also used projectors to explain the story of Ganesh to the audience who didn't know it, me being one of them, and I found it very helpful and allowed me to understand the play. The play is very enjoyable and I would highly recommend that people go and see it.
Sarah McConnell: Power is probably the most influential theme in Back to Back Theatre's 'Ganesh Versus the Third Reich'. The play that was conceived by 11 artists, including the director Bruce Gladwin, and performed at the Royal Lyceum Theatre during the Edinburgh International Festival shows the dictators of both Hitler and the director abusing their power.
Ganesh is the elephant-headed Hindu God known to be the remover of obstacles. The play features two narratives; one of Ganesh's travels from India to Nazi Germany in an aim to reclaim the swastika, and the second of the theatre company putting on the show and their struggles in the making of the play.
The cast consisted of five actors; the director and four actors who had mental or physical disabilities. By showing us both sides of the story we are able to see that although we think things have moved on and gotten better it isn't the case for all. Although the oppression Hitler put the Jews under is over we still see the power and abusive way in which the director can be to his actors.
Back to Back Theatre showed us how easy it is to pass judgment on the people and times that have come before us and how we can clearly identify their weaknesses. Back to Back Theatre however, also identified the faults and flaws in our society today. It is noticeable that for the second narrative the actors used their own names to show that this can and does happen.
Clare Duffy: If you are eager to try something new at this year's Edinburgh International Festival then this unique play by Back to Back Theatre is definitely worth a watch. With its quirky and unusual features this play truly captivates its audience throughout, especially with the use of comedy.
Upon the performance beginning I did not know what to expect, making it all the more exciting. As we were settled in our seats, the house lights remained up and upon the stage an actor began to emerge and took a seat. The whole audience went silent-you could not have heard a pin drop. This was an unusual, quirky way to start the play and at first it appeared lacking professionalism as there was no clear warning of the play beginning but it did have an interesting impact.
Ganesh Versus the Third Reich overall had the main concept of power and was about Ganesh travelling to Germany to reclaim the Swastika and so although it had its unusual features it incorporated some history. It was totally different as you were watching the actors rehearse and create the play and the highs and lows that that brings.
There was one real pivotal and significant point in the play in which a fight broke out between the director and his actors, instantly gripping me and making me feel tense and on edge.
Despite several of the actors having a disability it did not have a significant effect on the overall performance of the play. Definitely a worthwhile watch!