By Barry Collins
JUDGEMENT is based on a true World War II story. Abandoning
a hilltop monastery, the German army left seven captured Soviet officers
entombed in a cellar, without clothing, food, or water. Two survived for
sixty days, reduced to the most hideous savagery. They were found crazed
by the advancing Red Army, given a decent meal, and shot, “lest
the soldiers see to what abjection their former officers had been reduced”
(George Steiner). The monastery was then destroyed. Barry Collins’
play re imagines this incident, requiring a captain, Vukhov, to defend
his sanity while on trial for his life. We, the jury, judge how far you
can go for survival’s sake and remain human. At Audience members
have the opportunity to vote on Vuhkov’s fate. Results of balloting
are posted outside the theatre 15 minutes after each performance.
A play about imprisonment, starvation, survival, love and humanity.
Toronto Fringe Festival, July 4-13, 2003
Winnipeg Fringe Festival, July 21-30, 2005
July 23, 2005 CBC Manitoba
Judgment is no doubt one of the most difficult plays you'll see at this
year's Fringe, and it's also among the most worthwhile. Actor Michael
Whitehead has chosen challenging material: a ninety-minute monologue delivered
by an officer on trial for turning on his fellow soldiers. Thankfully,
Whitehead is utterly mesmerizing as Russian army captain Andrei Vukhov,
and his story, though horrifying and gruesome, is also completely engrossing.
This is a play about preserving human dignity amid the worst human atrocities,
and playwright Barry Collins forces us to not only listen, but also participate.
We are cast as Vukhov’s jury of peers, in whose hands his fate lies.
We must consider carefully, through our own moral filters, the hell he’s
been through and the choices he’s made, and consider, too, what
we would do in the same situation. The crowd at Friday night’s show
took this task seriously, judging by the number of people who lingered
over their ballots. If you’re not afraid to exercise your ethics,
do the right thing and put this show at the top of your Fringe list.
5 Flower Power - CBC Reviewer: Iris Yudai
Winnipeg Free Press Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Undiscovered Country Theatre
Onstage at the Playhouse (Venue 4), to July 30
Officer Andrei Vukhov is the sole (sane) survivor among a group of seven
Soviet officers captured by the Germans, stripped naked and left in a
monastery cellar without food or water.
"What would you have done?" is the question posed to audiences
of this intense and darkly compelling 90-minute monologue, brilliantly
executed by Toronto's Michael Whitehead.
And it's a question that continues to haunt long after the image of Vukhov,
clad in a hospital gown and clutching a sharpened thighbone, fades into
Viewers are handed a ballot as they enter the theatre and invited to vote
on Vukhov's post-confession fate. Results are posted outside after each
Judgment plumbs the depths of the human spirit and its survival instinct,
but it's not for the faint-of-heart or the queasy -- the first clue being
Vukhov's opening line: "Comrades, I can see I disgust you."
Creeping like snail unwillingly . . .
By Michael Whitehead
Every actor needs a day job – Michael’s for over 20 years
has been teaching first aid to a largely unwilling and unmotivated audience.
Giggle as he explores essential skills needed to help save a life and
the reasons people would practically rather die than learn them.
- Why does Seattle save 10 times as many lives as Toronto?
- What drives an actor to become so passionate about a day job in the
face of apathy, sloth, and ignorance?
- Can caring really make a difference?
- How does one change a belief system, and if so, whose belief system
should one change?
Humorous skills taught: Calling 911, Conscious choking, CPR, AED, Severe
Bleeding and Slings.
A World Premiere at the Toronto
Fringe Festival, July 5-16, 2006