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MARX IN SOHO a Play on History
By Howard Zinn
Directed by Sarita So

at Newtown Community & Cultural Centre, Wellington
14 Jun 2014

Reviewed by Grace Hoet, 15 Jun 2014

A taste of Karl Marx enlivened the Newtown Community Centre last night.

The visit from the philosopher came courtesy of Howard Zinn's one person play on history, Marx in Soho: a seamless monologue of capitalist injustices that puzzled him in, his time with a comparative review of contemporary socioeconomic commentary.

Zinn blends history, personal impression and political vivacity into an eloquently assembled and captivating monologue.  His Marx invites the audience to reconsider socialist theory as a compelling perspective for this day and age. “I'm not a Marxist! I've come to clear my name...”

Confessions and recollections from the aged Marx give great insight into the private life and love of this family man, performed by Anya Tate-Manning.  

Anya Tate-Manning's portrayal of Marx is exceptional; her breathless rendition of a (lovable) monster of a script is outstanding. It is always a pleasure to watch an actor hold an audience in the palm of their hand, especially during poignant emotional moments where heartfelt and genuine tears are about to fall … but not quite; a moment that is magical. I do not give praise lightly, but Tate-Manning is a captivating pleasure to watch, even with her Madame Secretary moments. 

Understanding the dynamics and size of the script I have one thing to share: remember to breathe! All great philosophers I'm sure spent a lot of time deliberating and theorising …. Enjoy that beer! 

A lot can be learned from Zinn's Marx: “I was wrong in 1848 that capitalism was on its way out.”  In Karl Marx's own words, “Capitalism without conscience is a recipe for revolution.” Are these the Keys to a National Government? “To be radical is to grasp the root of a problem and the problem is us!” 

Che Guevara stated that Marx expresses a revolutionary concept: “The world must not only be interpreted, it must be transformed.” As a philosopher, Zinn's Marx is true and simple: “Use the enormous wealth of the world to feed the people, give them food, give them clean water...”

It is a great pity that this play is on for one night only. Its election year and this play is truly relevant, so make your vote count. 

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 Phoebe Smith
 Erin Harrington