Thursday, December 7, 2017

Young Marx - reviewed by Catie

{Incised in gold letters in the granite:}
Workers of all lands unite. 
Karl Marx. {On an old white marble stone:} 
Jenny von Westphalan, the beloved wife of Karl Marx, 
born 12th February 1814, died 2nd December 1881. 
And Karl Marx, born May 5th 1818, 
died March 14th 1883. 
And Harry Longuet, their grandson, born July 4th ...
Grandmother and I hit the show with lots of contraband (candy from the Dollarama and Rootbeer and giant chocolate bars with hazelnuts from Catherine's storage unit).

We have a new view of Marx and Engles.

Engles played a big part in supporting Marx.

And even though Engles said he was not an analyst, he had a whole monologue on the word "brutalized" which he said Marx could never use again when speaking of himself.

Now Engles let us see behind the scenes in the Manchester districts that we don't hear about: 10 families living in a small area, one bathroom, and children play in excrement.

The artistic director, Nicholas Hytner told us that some of the most crazy and usual things we would see in the play were true.  There was a duel for Marx's wife Jenny who went off with another communist for a night.

The two men decided to have a duel.  The editor of the newspaper showed up to tell Marx information, people leading the battle said to get out of the way and the editor was the one who got shot. 

Apparently Marx started a fight in the London reading room of the National Library.  Marx met Darwin there in the library and in this play gave Darwin the idea of using the phrase "The Origin of the Species".  This might not be true, but it made the audience laugh.

Marx had boils on his butt which he lanced himself for his wife wouldn't help him.  He showed the audience how he did that with a mirror.

Marx spent a lot of time hiding in the closet, mostly from creditors.

He hid in the chimney.  Nym, the maid, came in and kept shifting around the coals and I was afraid something more was going to happen there.

The funeral for Marx's young song, Foxy, was a serious moment.  Marx told the grave digger to join the funeral and not be ashamed of the worker's clothes, which showed that he was always aware of his philosophy.

Having the show end  by demonstating that Marx might not have written the book himself, but that he played his ideas off of Nym, Jenny and Engles, was a good idea.

We could see that when Engles said he would support Marx and his family with 5 pounds a week, that truly Engles saw the value in Marx's ideas and that was important.

I like the stage setting.  As the director was saying, he created this theatre to have the theatre adapt to the needs of the play.  We saw rooms and scenery on one turntable of a building, so the the doors opened up into each other.  The scenery was dark.  It was never really light, though we had the street lamps.

There was always something to laugh about which was a good way to keep interest up.  I am not good with historical terms, so I was wondering if I would get the communist / capitalist dichotomy.  But the way they presented it made it easy to understand.  When it is personal and working through the characters it makes more sense.

The Soho video was helpful at the intermission.  By the end of the first act, we really hadn't seen what the district of Soho in London was like.  But when the historian talked about the context of Soho with these characters, the stage was set for the second portion of the act.

By that time we knew who was whom, and what they stood for.  We saw how important Nym was.  She was the maid who ended up being like family for she was a gift to Jenny when Jenny married Marx.  The fact that she is named on the gravestone makes her family.  The gravestone says Workers of all lands unite.  When Grandma and I got home we checked on wiki to see what it costs to visit the grave:  $6.  Apparently the cemetery is on private property and it costs money for upkeep.

Engles had sophisticated clothing.  Marx's shirt was rarely tucked in and his hair was all over the place.  You could tell by the costuming, the social place people had in society.  You could see the class from the clothing, though Marx was working to change that.

Someone warned Marx that he would fight him to the end of eternity.  Marx explained that eternity has no end, so what he was saying made no sense and so could not be true, which establishes the fact that humour was always present in the play.

And this is the end of my review.



  1. And in Victoria, we too cracked up about the end of eternity. And the typical library fight was great. Wow to the london skyline in the play!

  2. Mary and Naomi texted us during the intermission to see how we were enjoying the play. I heard the pint of the text coming in but didn't think to look at it. We were too busy seeing if we could construct answers and/or questions about the play.

    Catie didn't know about Soho, so the name of the district was lost on her until that intermission interlude when modern day Soho was shown to us against the back drop of explanation of Soho's past.

    I came home and read up about Engles, for I told Eric I thought Engles was English since his father owned shares in a factory in Manchester. Nothing could have been farther from the truth, I was to learn, while reading about him. Yes to him being German and yes to him living in Manchester to make money in the factories for both of them. His partner, Mary Burns died after 20 years and then he was with her sister, Lizzie. Oh yes, the Goddess Google tells all.