The production, which plays the studio-sized Cottesloe Theatre and lasts 85 minutes, is based on Holocaust chronicler Primo Levi’s book “If This Is a Man.” Levi may have chronicled his experiences in Auschwitz, but he cannot automatically be called a Holocaust survivor, since his death in 1987 was thought by many to have been suicide; fellow chronicler Elie Wiesel has said, “Primo Levi died at Auschwitz forty years later.” Sher, who like Levi is Jewish, witnessed another brand of persecution in the apartheid South Africa where he was born — and about which he wrote extensively in his autobiography.
Sher’s previous appearances at the National include his award-winning turn in Stanley (about the life of artist Stanley Spencer), Uncle Vanya and Arturo Ui. His extensive work with the Royal Shakespeare Company includes Cyrano De Bergerac, his much-praised Richard III, Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, Tamburlaine, The Roman Actor and Iago in Othello. His film work includes “Shakespeare in Love” and “Mrs. Brown.”
Actor-turned-director Richard Wilson directs, with designs by Hildegard Bechtler. Paul Pyant supplied the lighting designs. The production is booking until Dec. 1. For more information, call (0)20 7452 3000.