'Oh brother man'
OF COURSE if Fr Jerzy Popieluszko's driver had not escaped from the kidnappers' car, the trial of the priest's murderers may never have taken place. And with it, a real life drama of manipulation and disinformation of the sort the priest constantly warned against.
Fr Popieluszko's driver, Waldemar Chrostowski (Brian Cox) is the hero of Ronald Harwood's new play The Deliberate Death of a Polish Priest which opened at the Almeida Theatre last week, exactly a year after it all happened.
From his answers in the witness box and comments to the audience, Chrostowski fills in the gaps and relates the rumours in a reassuringly human way. For this play, much of it verbatim translation from the records of the original 28-day trial, presents a chilling picture of a totalitarian mentality fighting justice and truth whatever the cost.
Harwood sets his play in a stark and gloomy Courtroom. The four security officers on trial are perplexed seemingly accountable to no one, they had
THERE IS no realism in Greek mythology. It indulges in grandeur as does Director Philip Prowse in his production of Racine's Phedra at the Aldwych Theatre.
The director is also responsible for the setting which creates an apparent vastness on the stage of the Aldwych Theatre, which would do credit to Covent Garden Opera House.
Philip Prowse has staged Racine's play in a grandiose manner but the actors are not the right match. They are extremely skilful as one would
expected praise not punishment for ridding the State of a hated, troublesome priest the Spokesman for Solidarity during Martial Law, Captain Piotrowski (Stuart Wilson) justifies kidnapping Fr Jerzy from his car and subsequently killing him by beating and gagging and throwing his heavily weighted body into the Vistula, with the comment: "the lesser evil is necessary to avoid a greater evil". His two subordinates are more concerned with advancing their careers.
Under Kevin Billington's direction, the bitter tale is disturbingly retold by a powerfully convincing cast. The prosecution make sure that the buck stops here, with the defendants in the dock, who describe their actions in minute and gruesome detail.
The mixture of arrogance, weakness and fear contrasts sharply with the gentle priest who, one is reminded at the beginning, spoke of fearing "not those who kill the body, but the soul". The performances end on November 9.
expect, as they include Glenda Jackson, Rober Eddison and Joyce Redman, but they are all of a different genre. Sarah Bernhardt appeared many times as Phedra and without even seeing her one can visualise her in this production. Margaret Rawlings' interpretation would have suited. The fault, as far as there is one, is not that of the actors, rather it is that Philip Prowse's production needs Donald Wolfit type of actors, who being no longet fashionable, have disappeared.
Helen de Borchgrave