By Wallace Shawn Directed by Urjo Kareda and Andy McKim
In Aunt Dan and Lemon, American writer Wallace Shawn [My Dinner With André) rips aside the bland mask of humanity’s moral pretensions to expose the grimace of evil beneath. The play, given its Canadian première by Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre and running until Feb. 8, focuses on the neurotic Lemon (Susan Coyne), who reminisces about an old family friend, Aunt Dan (Clare Coulter). A vivacious professor who admires former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger, Aunt Dan cheerfully argues that nations have the right to preserve their way of life through force. Under Dan’s spell, Lemon pursues that logic to its inevitable conclusion: the same impulse that led the United States to drop napalm in Southeast Asia yielded Nazi Germany’s extermination of the Jews. As the play ends, Lemon salutes the unsentimental honesty of Hitler and his minions. Shawn is exploring—not condoning—Dan’s ideas, but his play lacks a rebuttal to those arguments. Still, the brutally frank drama is a powerful incitement to debate.
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