Play Reading in English - Death, a one-act play by Woody Allen

HK English Speaking Union
  • Tue 17-04-2018 7:15 PM - 2 h

Colette Artbar

Free admission


Woody Allen’s 1975 one-act black comedy formed the basis of his 1991 movie Shadows and Fog. However, the original drama script has often been performed on stage, and has remained popular with school and university acting groups. The author, known primarily for his prolific and acclaimed film scripts, acting and direction, has written a number of short plays and sketches, but ‘Death’ is probably the most developed and accomplished. The plot is simple, but the play can be seen as allegorical in a number of its themes. It implicitly questions the meaning (and randomness) of life, as well as the complex relationship between the individual  and the collective, particularly when the collective conducts itself according to norms of ‘mob rule’. Allen’s films often feature ineffectual outsiders who don’t fit into normal social groups or patterns of behaviour, and Kleinman (his name meaning ‘little man’ in German) a meek salesman, reminds us of other Woody Allen comic types more familiar from the screen. At the start of the play Kleinman is awoken late one night by a mob led by a man named Hacker, who forces him to join their vigilante group dedicated to catching a serial killer thought to be in the neighbourhood. Hacker claims to have a plan to catch the maniac, but when Kleinman asks about what he has to do, each man in the group says that they are only aware of their own part of the plan so the killer won't catch on. They march him to the street to stand guard, and leave him on his own to await his part in the plan. Kleinman is eventually joined by a doctor, who tells him that his interest in the case is to catch the killer so he can understand the mind of a psychopath. The doctor leaves, and Kleinman hears screams in the night. He then meets a prostitute, Gina, and the two contemplate death and conjecture on the possibility of other (more intelligent) life in the universe. The mob returns still on the hunt for the homicidal maniac, and Kleinman begins to feel he is the only rational person in a mad world when he is arbitrarily accused of being the culprit. If the play sounds depressing, we assure you it isn’t: the script bubbles over like champagne with Allen’s trademark black humour and delicious sense of irony.

All attendees are kindly reminded that you should not bring your own food and drink to consume on the Fringe Club premises. Refreshments are available at the Fringe Club.

All are welcome.

Facilitators: Mike Ingham & Julian Quail


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