The Quarrel

Dates 25 January - 17 February Venue Pacific Theatre

Reviewer Susan Peake

Based on the short story “My Quarrel with Hersh Resseyner” by Chaim Grade, The Quarrel was later (1991) made into a critically acclaimed movie and now makes its Canadian stage premiere at Pacific Theatre.

Brilliantly directed by Morris Ertman, this play will undoubtedly move you with its gripping story of post-Holocaust conflicting perspectives. Nathan Schmidt (Chaim) and Dan Amos (Hersh) are flawless in their performances as two Holocaust survivors who were boyhood friends prior to the war and who, after it, view life and God in very different ways – Chaim, a well-known writer, has lost his faith, and Herch, a religious teacher, has become ever stronger in his.

Did God abandon them at that time, or was man to blame? The poignant dialogue between Chaim and Hersh evokes powerful emotion and leaves the audience with profound sympathy for all who suffered through this tragic period in history.

There are a few welcoming injections of humour throughout this 80-minute dramatic "quarrel," as well as a sense of hope and atonement for the two men who both lost their families as a result of genocide, and both struggle with guilt over their behaviour when last with their loved-ones.

The intimate 126-seat venue is just right for a production of this kind. The scenic design and the stage management are appropriately simplistic, as the focus is almost exclusively on the dialogue between the two men. Sound and lighting design also provide effective emphasis with just the right touches at the right times.

If you are looking for light entertainment, this is obviously not the play for you. However, if you are interested in riveting dialogue that is remarkably relevant today and that will keep you thinking long after the curtain goes down, then you will not be disappointed with The Quarrel.

© 2006 Susan Peake