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Review: A Genesis of Karma

New End Theatre

    A Genesis of Karma is a play with a moral to it, but don't let that put you off. In three short vignettes, we meet a trio of characters from different worlds, different eras and with individual challenges to overcome.

    We go from Nazi Germany on the eve of the Final Solution, to the home of a Catholic priest in mid-century Italy, then finally to the gritty streets of modern-day Willesden.

    In each interlude, a woman is battling with demons real and imaginary; a predatory SS man, a malevolent priest and an angry, maniacal thug, but also their own anxieties and mistakes. Woven into this are questions about religion, culture and philosophy, cause and effect.

    But the play isn't three separate scenes. A mysterious Messianic figure narrates them all in a way which the writer, Gopi Warrier, may well have intended to be haunting and thought-provoking, but which falls far short.

    The suggestion that each victim has been formed out of some kind of karmic retribution is intriguing, but one that would be more rewarding for the audience to explore without the presence of a prophet with an inflated sense of importance doing so for them.

    That said, the play benefits from some excellent performances – Alan Booty makes for a wonderfully ingratiating priest, while Lowri James, and her "flashing eyes", is excellent at expressing the burning anguish and defiance of the Jewish Rachel. The music is rousing and effective, and there is strong direction at the hands of Alexa Christopher-Daniels.

    The small space is used brilliantly, not least in a chilling scene of silent, brutal violence, played out in the background as a court scene unfolds on the main stage.

    At only an hour long, this is a simple but absorbing drama, a puzzle of a play that offers several ways of being put back together.

    New End Theatre

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