Goodness

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Coach House Books, 2005 - Drama - 107 pages
2 Reviews

Winner of the Best of the Edinburgh Fringe Prize

Althea: Do you believe in your own death? Every moment you are alive is endless and the present goes on and on with you inside it. Of course the end is truly coming, but it's so far off, and in the meantime the spring bulbs need bringing out of the dark and the windows must be cleaned. These distant murmurings of unrest are like the way you sometimes hear your name on the wind and you shudder. Because it's eerie that the wind should know your name.

This remarkable autobiographical play by the award-winning author of Building Jerusalem and Martin Sloane, is a Russian-doll-like play: concentric stories enveloping each other. A writer is told, in confidence, a terrible tale of murder and injustice and he promises never to repeat the story. Goodness is the writer breaking his word.

Recently divorced, Michael Redhill goes to Poland to get away from his life and to do some research on the Holocaust. Thwarted by witnesses unwilling to talk, he returns home via England, but in London is introduced to someone who can tell him a 'real' story of evil. Through this reluctant witness, Redhill learns of a genocide. He encounters, through the memory of the storyteller, an alleged war criminal, about to be put on trial. But this is an old man with Alzheimer's who can no longer remember the time his crimes were allegedly committed. Has his guilt dissolved with his memory? Could he be pretending to be ill in order to escape punishment? The witness conjures for Redhill the war criminal's passionate and beautiful daughter, who will defend her father at all costs. There is also the prosecuting attorney, who has much in common with the old man whose destruction he seeks. As well as an uncomfortable attraction to his daughter. Each is drawn to theother. All is witnessed by a female prison guard - the one who tells the playwright, years later, what really happened in the quest to give a nation some closure. Everyone's story is compelling, and the ending is as unexpected as it is shocking.

Who do we believe? A prison guard still wounded by history? A writer suffering from heartache? A dying war criminal? What is our responsibility? Who does memory serve? Did the past really happen? And if it did, who has a claim on it?

Goodness is a play about what happens in the gaps between experiencing, telling and hearing.

 

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User Review  - LynnB - LibraryThing

Wow! This is a two-act play which interweaves several stories, linking the personal and political spheres of life. Michael's wife has left him for his best friend. Having learned about her affair by ... Read full review

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morality play about the holocaust and genocide. protagonist has Alzheimer's. or does he?

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Page 5 - O my unhappy one, how we suffer! ALCESTIS (chanting) He drags me, he drags me away — Do you not see? — To the House of the Dead, The Winged One Glaring under dark brows. Hades!— What is it you do? Set me free! — What a path must I travel, O most hapless of women ! ADMETUS O piteous to those that love you, above all to me and to these children who sorrow in this common grief ! ALCESTIS (chanting) Loose me, Oh, loose me now; Lay me down...

About the author (2005)

Michael Redhill is the publisher and one of the editors of Brick, a journal of things literary. His most recent books are Fidelity, a collection of short fiction; Martin Sloane, a novel that was nominated for the Giller Prize, the Trillium Award, the Torgi Award, the City of Toronto Book Award, the Books in Canada/Amazon Best First Novel Prize and won the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book; Light-crossing, a collection of poetry; and Building Jerusalem, a play, which won a Dora for Best New Play and a Chalmers Award for Playwriting and was nominated for a Governor General's Award. He lives with his partner and two sons in Toronto.

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