Ganesh Versus the Third Reich
Bruce Gladwin and Others
Back to Back
Royal Lyceum Theatre
Until seeing this offering in the Edinburgh International Festival it did not seem conceivable that the option of giving no stars would ever be necessary.
However, Ganesh Versus the Third Reich achieves greater levels of offence than any other stage presentation that I have ever seen.
Taking the Holocaust and the Hindu religion as sources of levity is the least of the enormities that this 110-minute play manages.
The much more serious offence, which the Nazis would have understood, is to ask an audience to laugh at those with what are described as “intellectual difficulties”. This is the core of an evening that seems to have no other purpose.
For the most part, the performance shows a quartet of Australian men with disabilities trying to devise an almost non-existent play during which the Indian elephant God Ganesh travels through time and space to Germany in 1943 intent on rescuing the swastika from Hitler and his cohorts.
The melee that follows is severely embarrassing and ends symbolically with the one actor who seems to have no intellectual difficulties literally walking all over a sensitive man that has.
It seems that we are being asked to regress to the days when the “cultured” travelled to Bedlam to laugh at the madmen incarcerated there.
Maybe there is art or compassion in here somewhere but, if so, it is well hidden.
Reviewer: Philip Fisher