In 1987, Primo Levi, the Italian writer renowned for his autobiographical Survival in Auschwitz and other writings about the Holocaust, died after falling down the stairwell of his apartment house.
The stage play Primo is a fictional account of Levi’s last day. In it, he questions the relevance of his writings to the new generation while journeying into the dreamscape of his memory to a day in Auschwitz. Each step forward draws him further into his memories, blurring the distinction between past and present. He moves into the mist of timelessness, drifting through its shadows and currents, sensing the faint whisperings of distant voices, beckoning.
The play emerges as a timeless depiction of Auschwitz driven by the prisoner’s experience, defined by the survivor’s memory. Primo creates an innovative way of staging a theatrical production by combining dialogue with choreographic movement. This brings a new realism to the performance by enhancing the unimaginable reality of the concentration camp environment, while displaying its devastating impact and illuminating the darkness that lingers in the human soul.
I chose to listen to this audioplay after receiving a free audio copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.
I’ve never listened to a play before, so the experience was a little different. The narrator explains the scene and the set up on the stage so that the reader can visualize it. It is then mostly the characters speaking with the narrator explaining movements. It works well. I’ve been to a few plays, and I could imagine being there.
I’ve always been interested in and horrified by the Holocaust, especially since it happened just a few years before I was born. I think that my grandmother being best friends with my “Aunt” Sally made it more real for me. When I did learn about the concentration camps, I couldn’t believe it.
Primo not only describes the horrors that people went through, but the devastating effects it had on the survivors. Even though the characters in the concentration camp weren’t fully developed, it brought tears to my eyes several times, which means to me it’s effective and worth a listen. And now I must add Primo Levi’s autobiography to my TBR list.