Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Birthmarks

Out of Wales Theatre Company , Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff , April-26-89
‘Karl Marx is immortalised in the public conscience as a purely cerebral character, to millions a God, to others a devil. With all his deification we have forgotten that Marx was a creature of flesh and blood.
Birthmarks succeeds brilliantly in knocking the political philosopher from his pedestal and giving us Marx versus Man. What more personal view could we get than that memorable image conveyed last night of Marx, pants around his ankles, having a boil on his bottom lanced by his wife?
We see him as a volatile man of genius, and moral superiority; who is also capable of great crudeness, hypocrisy, selfishness and lechery.
He made his housekeeper pregnant and when a boy was born, persuaded his colleague Engels to assume paternity in order to safeguard his reputation and forced the housekeeper to give up the child to foster parents.
And as he penned his theories of revolution in the British Museum, his wife had to cope with poverty, a large family, her husband’s moods and infidelity.
This award-winning play by Cardiff academic Mark Jenkins is sophisticated, entertaining and intelligent. The subject has been well-researched, yet is addressed in a fresh, colloquial manner, spiced with sexual innuendo. The play ends cleverly by putting (Marx) in the position of an exploiter, creating surplus value in the shape of an unwanted child. Performances by the six-strong Everyman Theatre Company of Cardiff under director Jeremy James, were uniformly excellent.

Reviewed by: Nicole Sochor, Arts Critic of the Western Mail,

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