Tabling the truth

by Susan Zieger | 10/24/94 6:00am

"The Table: A Play for Four Voices and Basso Ostinato" by Ida Fink was read Saturday night in the Warner Bentley theater in conjunction with this weekend's Holocaust conference, "Lessons and Legacies III: Memory, Memorialization and Denial."

The work dramatizes the sort of inane scrutiny Holocaust deniers would impose on the testimony of survivors. The Prosecutor (read by Paul Gaffney) asks each of the four survivors (Joshua Price, Deborah Solomon, Carlos Spalding and Kathryn Davey) to recount the day the gestapo set up a selection in their town square, ostensibly to identify which Nazi leaders were there.

The survivors recall horrible shootings, the digging of a mass grave and blood-stained snow, but they cannot recall exactly whether or not a table was present in the square when the Nazis reviewed the Jews' documentation and sent them either to the left or to the right. The Prosecutor hounds each witness to remember the table's dimensions, position and other details, absurdly ignoring their harrowing descriptions of the Nazis' inhuman crimes.

The reading, directed by Professor of Drama Mara Sabinson, was a moving depiction of the tragedy of survivors' testimony: they must relive their trauma to establish the truth. Too often, it seems in recent times, this truth is not merely overlooked but cruelly denied.