As a part of the Chutzpah! Festival, “Goodness” presented a story about a reporter, Michael Redhill (Paul Braunstein) in a transitional stage of his life. Just recently divorced, Michael decides to take some time off to explore his roots and Jewish origins, and decides to focus his time on exploring the history of the Jewish Holocaust during World War II – and his relatives who perished there. This exploration takes him on a trip to Poland.
On his way to Poland, he stops over in London. There, during a spontaneous bar conversation, he is confronted by a mysterious man (J.D. Nicholsen) who confronts Michael for his views on right and wrong, good and bad, and challenges him to understand a simple question: Why do good people do wrong?. To solve this question, the mysterious man invites Michael to visit yet another intriguing character of his, a woman by the name Althea (Lili Franks), who will be able to answer the question for him. Reluctant at first, Michael agrees to visit Althea – since her address is just across the street from the bar he was just sitting in.
Althea is indeed an intriguing personality. After a very difficult first encounter between Althea and Michael, the former finally agrees to tell part of her story that would help explain why do good people do bad. As it turns out, she comes from a past where she witnessed injustice, genocide, and the trial of the ultimate mastermind of the genocide back in her country – an individual named Matthias Todd (Layne Coleman).
The story goes on to masterfully play with the audience’s emotions and thoughts, as it evolves into an argument where Althea, Michael, and the different characters in the story of Althea play their roles in which it becomes difficult to understand who does right and who does wrong? Who tells truth, and who tells lies? What circumstances make a good action be bad, and viceversa?
The cast of this phenomenal story was completed by the great performances of Tara Hughes and Amy Rutherford. This engaging play combined the past and the present of its storyline in a very smooth fashion, coming back and forth between the encounter between Althea and Michael, Althea’s personal story, and even interactions between Althea, Michael, and characters from the past. This rich story was complemented by amazing choral performances by the cast, as well as subtle light effects and a simple but effective use of props.