I love a play that provides a bibliography in the program.
How much you enjoy Good People Bad Things, the latest from local playwright Daniel Thau-Eleff, will depend largely on whether you can say the same.
This 75-minute, one-man show (performed by the playwright) definitely has a bare bones, Fringe-festival aesthetic.
But it's jam-packed with big ideas. The central question here is one of "evil" - can a person truly be "evil?" Or are heinous acts committed by people who are not essentially "bad," but just people doing bad things?
This becomes a more complicated question than it might seem at first blush when Thau-Eleff begins discussing figures like notorious Nazi Adolf Eichmann. But Thau-Eleff doesn't focus just on monstrous examples of "bad." His monologue - part storytelling, part political rant, with a dash of stand-up comedy - also presents more banal examples of evil, particularly through the story of a farmer named Don and his wife, Madison. We're left to wrestle with the question of whether Don is a "bad person" when he becomes abusive towards Madison, or if he's still a "good person" doing "bad things."
Thau-Eleff also extends the question to a global political perspective by looking at the question of Israel and its military approach - is it aggression, or self-defence? Is Israel a nation of "good people doing bad things?"
These are brave and provocative questions to pose, and at its best, Good People Bad Things succeeds in laying the groundwork for deep and important discussions.
At the same time, it raises far more questions than it answers, and it feels like there are certainly dropped threads in all of the disparate ideas Thau-Eleff is trying to bring together (an interesting tangent on Israel's role in the global security industry, for example, doesn't really seem to lead to anything beyond intriguing statistics).
On the production side, too, Good People Bad Things would benefit from some tightening. Thau-Eleff is a likable storyteller, and he laces this monologue with more successful jokes than you'd expect, given the subject matter. But he and director Chris Gerrard-Pinker would do well to pick up the show's measured pace.
Good People Bad Things can be frustrating for the questions it raises, and doesn't answer. But for fans of political theatre - and those who think it's more important to encourage questions and discussion than to provide answers - it will satisfy.
Good People Bad Things runs at the Rudolf Rocker (91 Albert Street, above Mondragon) until Oct. 28. The Oct. 27 matinee performance will be followed by a panel discussion, beginning at 3:15, titled "Goyim in Solidarity," focusing on the work of local activists in the Middle East.