Marx in our hearts

Elena Amesbury

To open your heart to Karl Marx, brought back from the dead, is not a daily occurrence. However, last Saturday that is exactly what happened when Robert Weick performed Howard Zinn’s “Marx in Soho” at the coffeehouse.
Karl Marx strode onstage and proceeded to tell the audience his point of view on the whole business of communism – namely, that he is not a Marxist.
The underlying plot of the play, brought to campus by Students for Leftist Action, is that Marx is allowed to come back to earth and mingle with living for about an hour.
“How did I get here?” he asked rhetorically. “Public transportation. Why have I returned? To clear my name.” When Marx tells you he has come back to clear his name, you know you’re in for some good ranting.
Zinn portrays Marx as human, with his own faults, needs and family. The play follows Marx’s life from Germany to Paris and then to Soho in London and is sprinkled with anecdotes from his life that further flavor his character.
Much of the play is also packed with Marx’s inspirational ideas, taken from his works before they were spoiled by the reality of implementation.
The best thing about “Marx in Soho” is that it puts back some of the hope and humanity into Marx’s ideas, which have since been abused by corrupt people. Zinn eerily applied Marx’s important ideas and subjects which seemed to apply only to his own time to current events.
These applications were emphasized by repeated statements that highlighted the idea that, “You think you have changed, and you think your society is fueled by progress, but the poor are still poor and the rich still run the country.”
The ultimate message of “Marx in Soho” is, ever so eloquently, that “people must get off their asses.” By far, this statement is one of the more poignantly expressed summaries of what it means to come to Lawrence and to be a part of our global world: to get off our asses, get angry, and change the world.
As Marx explained, “To be radical is to grasp the root of a problem, and the problem is us. Pretend you have boils!” Marx had chronic boils on his rear.
One last “Marx in Soho” line, which may apply directly to Lawrence: “Ah! Lesson: If you are going to break the law, do it with two thousand people. And Mozart!”
Weick’s acting as Marx was wonderful, and he used his props very effectively. For example, the stage had a table and two chairs. Marx used one chair, but the other was left untouched, representing his wife Jenny. The moment after he told the audience how she had died, he sat down heavily in her chair.
It was the touching humanity portrayed in the production that, in the end, made the members of the audience open their hearts to Marx a completely unpredictable occurrence.