We all like to think we’ve accepted that history is a slippery thing: that memory is fickle and multiple perspectives can contain truth. But are we ready to stick to that idea in the face of unimaginable atrocity? Ken Urban’s troubling new play, Sense of an Ending — directed by Adam Fitzgerald at 59E59 — challenges such truisms, confronting the uncomfortable realities behind a horrific incident during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Sense takes place in Kigali, Rwanda, in 1999. Two nuns (Heather Alicia Simms and Dana Marie Ingraham) will soon be tried for abetting a massacre of Tutsis at their church. Charles (Joshua David Robinson), an American journalist with truth-telling problems in his own past — it’s hinted he’s a plagiarist — hopes to redeem his career and change history by getting their true story. He thinks the nuns are scapegoats, taking the fall for more powerful war criminals who escaped punishment. But his Rwandan guide/minder, Paul (Hubert Point-Du Jour), won’t let their story stand: Paul’s friend Dusabi (Danyon Davis) survived the massacre and tells a different, more damning tale.
Sense of an Ending is cogent and beautifully acted. Urban sometimes hammers his ideas too heavily — as in Charles’s solo outburst about truth. But these are questions worth considering, and the striking final moments demonstrate that this playwright’s sense of an ending is perfectly intact.
Sense of an Ending
By Ken Urban
59 East 59th Street