This is the true story of Simon Wiesenthal KBE (Christopher C Gibbs), born in Ukraine 1908, a Jewish Austrian Holocaust survivor. He devoted his life to bringing Nazi war criminals to justice. It is the last day in his Vienna office in 2003 and he relays his history and how he got there.
Gibbs immediately takes you into his confidence with a very engaging personality, treating you as guests in his office, speaking to you as a friend. Serious points are interspersed with humour, and, as he says, “if people are laughing together, they forget to kill each other.” While he never pauses for breath, he holds you all the time. There are many interesting facts along the way and a particularly poignant piece about a letter which will stay with you.
Gibbs has quite a soft voice and, while the air conditioning was in constant competition, it did not distract from his performance, just irritating. Gibbs said of the play: “every time I say these words… I am struck by the way they resonate with me and the world I find myself in today." Wiesenthal said, “if we do not understand how it happened then, it will happen now."
The subject matter is unfortunately becoming more important and relevant today with an escalation worldwide of hate and intolerance against people on the basis of race, religion and sexual orientation. This play honours Wiesenthal’s tenacity over decades.
Tightly written by Tom Dugan, well directed and designed by producer Mark Liebert, one could see why it was sold out, but still try to get a ticket—you will not be disappointed.
Reviewer: Anna Ambelez