Marx in Soho is a one-man play about the life of 19th-century philosopher Karl Marx. Set in the New York City neighbourhood of Soho, Marx is brought into the present day to face his criticism.
I hadn’t heard of Marx until speaking to Bob Weick who stars as the philosopher in the one-man play. He wrote about the government and how it only served the capitalist society, the people of wealth and class would hold the power – something that really changed. After touring America from Maine to California, the production has received rave reviews across the board.
“It is such a hopeful and encouraging story, we meet Marx the man, the husband and the father with all his flaws,” Bob said. “It’s a really inspiring story of peace and justice, which are words that aren’t usually associated with Marx.” Marx faced huge backlash during his time, but people look back on him now and see the progression he made which is depicted in this production.
Bob was working as an actor in Philadelphia when an audience member gave him a copy of the script, telling him it would be a great role for him. “At the time I didn’t know much about Karl Marx and wasn’t interested in doing a one-man play, but I was interested in American history. Particular current affairs stood out to me, like when the supreme court stopped democracy and decided that George Bush would be president, so I felt passionately about the show,” Bob explained.
“This play spoke to me and some of the powerful things that shaped the world we live in today and the devastation around us. It was an effort to try and bring important ideas to a new audience and we could begin to address these key issues and what capitalism has to do with all of that.”
After delving into the play, Bob was struck by capitalism and the American society with more of a critical eye. “I found it really shocking and hard to deal with at first, but I couldn’t deny what was in the script and how eye-opening it was as a typical progressive, liberal American,” he said. “It has been a really life-changing experience.”
Bob’s acting career is unconventional, as he started as a farrier (someone that shoes horses) but began acting at the age of 40. “When this script was given to me I had only been acting a few years, so although I had moved into professional theatre, I had no training,” he said. “It can be scary enough to step out on stage with a team of actors with you, so my lack of experience made the idea of a one-man show quite intimidating.”
Now after performing the play over 300 times, Bob feels it is a production that is incredibly relevant. “The play has really evolved, probably because I’ve understood it more as I’ve kept doing the show,” he said. “The material remains so relevant and the ideas in the play really speak to our current situation. As an actor, because I speak directly to the audience, every show different, especially since it is often informed by the current news.
“The play always feels fresh and alive and as an actor-activist I am so passionate about this work. It is not just a job, it is a passion and a conviction to share these ideas with people.”
When performing the play, Bob talked about how the temperature of the room changes as it progresses, because people are surprised that they actually agree with Marx and what he believes in. He explained: “People now are so aware of the problem of inequality and the failures of the system so it is received in a much different way now then when I first started doing it in 2004.”
On in London at the Etcetera Theatre (June 17th), Bread & Roses Theatre (June 18th) and the Gatehouse (June 20-22), tickets and information can be found on the website.