September/October 2005 Vol 5, No. 7
Howard Zinn’s play Marx in Soho
By Bonnie Weinstein
Marx in Soho, a one-man play by Howard Zinn
Performed by Jerry Levy
Auspices: Bay Area United Against War
With nothing more than a frock coat and a few small props, Jerry Levy’s energetic performance of Howard Zinn’s masterful play, “Marx in Soho” at the Sims Theater for the Performing Arts, brought a giant of a man up close with his audience. That Marx was addressing the audience was never in question. Not only does Levy look like the many photographs of Marx, but throughout his performance the honesty and integrity of a man that cared so much about the toilers of the world comes through. Levy’s portrayal of Zinn’s Marx brought the audience back to the past—all the while keeping note of the similarities between then and now.
As Zinn sees it, 120 years of the deepening of the class conflict in today’s world reaffirms the correctness of his analysis of Marx’s analysis of the capitalist system. His predictions of what would come in the absence a world socialist revolution are proven correct.
Levy’s Marx is old and plagued with boils, but his mind is as sharp as a tack. He describes how he and his family struggled against extreme poverty, experiencing the ravages of capitalism first hand. Three of his five children fail to survive the harsh conditions of their life in Soho. Marx is a loving father and husband. He is a good and true friend of all who struggle, even when he disagrees with them on some basic point. He is intolerant of those that make his life’s work a fetish and condemns those who have “put their own comrades against a wall and shot them” in the name of communism. But he never strays from his basic premise that capitalism is the root cause of present human suffering, then and now, and has to go.
If you are already a socialist, you walk away from this play convinced of the importance of your own work to further the ideas of Marx. If you were not a socialist before, when you walk away from this play, you are strongly inclined to give Marx a second or third look.
As Marx himself rhetorically asks in the play, “Why do they (the capitalists) feel it necessary to declare Marx dead over and over again?” The audience comes away from this play knowing why.
For more information about the play and Jerry Levy go to: www.levyarts.com