Share |
Feb 25th

Orbits at the Drayton Arms Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin


  Do you have inner bravery or inner cowardice?

During the Nazi regime, many German artists and writers fled to America, among them Bertolt Brecht. He collaborated with Charles Laughton on his play Life of Galileo to get his big break on Broadway and Laughton felt that working with Brecht would add some extra spice to his stagnant career. Wally Sewell's play focuses on this collaboration and the clash of two big egos. 

The performance begins with Charles Laughton (Edmund Dehn) rehearsing a scene as Galileo who is being questioned by the Inquisitor, played by Bertolt Brecht (Peter Saracen). Galileo attempts to navigate his way out of an accusation of heresy whilst the Inquisitor quietly listens and observes. When Galileo is finished, the Inquisitor is not satisfied. Neither is Bertolt Brecht.

The power structure of the play within a play somewhat reflects the relationship between the two men, both of whom have something to hide - Brecht his communist ideas, Laughton his homosexuality. Whereas Laughton is in awe of Bertolt Brecht, calling him a writer as great as Shakespeare, Brecht dismisses Laughton's work, especially his appearances on the radio, sponsored by Lux Soap. He expects Laughton to be pure as an artist, not selling out and giving in to commercialism. Laughton takes Brecht's slights with good humour. As their collaboration continues, the power balance shifts - Brecht is summoned by HUAC because of his communist leanings, which suddenly puts him out of favour and turns him into a persona non grata. 

Although Sewell bases his play on real events, the portrayal of the characters and the dialogue is fictitious. The Brecht character does not resemble Brecht any more than Peter Shaffer's Mozart resembles the real Mozart. Sewell draws Brecht as an arrogant and rude artiste who feels superior to Laughton and despises the superficial life in California and the commercialism of the U. S. Because of his unbearable arrogance and complete lack of any positive qualities, the sympathies of the audience are entirely with Charles Laughton, who also had a gigantic ego but is portrayed as a reasonable man expecting at least some appreciation for his work from the man whom he admires so much.

I first saw this production in April 2015 at the White Bear Theatre with the same cast and director. It remains an intriguing play because it discusses important issues but it would be more exciting and convincing if the characters were equally weighted. Edmund Dehn is very good as Charles Laughton, playing his character with quiet authority and a gentle sense of humour. Peter Saracen does his best with the rather unappealing Bertolt Brecht character.

By Carolin Kopplin 

Until 11th March 2017

Drayton Arms Theatre

Please read my original review here:

Feb 19th

Summer Nights in Space at the Vault Festival

By Carolin Kopplin

Everything is better in space.

The VAULT Festival is now in its fifth year. Until 5 March, hundreds of new shows are presented in the Waterloo Vaults. Summer Nights in Space is a musical comedy about the search for love across the universe by Hannah Elsey Productions, the same company that created the hilarious The Quentin Dentin Show.

Ever since Captain John Spartan (Matthew Jacobs) was a little boy, growing up in a bio dome and living on soylent green, he dreamt of going boldly where no man has gone before. After finishing space school, he was given command of the Excelsior. After his third year in space, a dull computer as his only company, John is getting increasingly scared of catching space madness. 

But then he detects a distress call in his spam folder and, despite the warnings of his computer, calculates a trajectory to the perishing astronaut. On his way to the damsel in distress, John finds a dangerous alien (Candice Palladino) on board. To make matters worse his arch nemesis and space rival "Lethal Space Bizzle" (Benjamin Victor) appears, rapping across the bridge.

Cast announcement Summer Nights In Space.jpg

Candice Palladino, Matthew Jacobs Morgan and Benjamin Victor

Henry Carpenter's musical is a spoof on popular science fiction, with references to Star Trek, Alien, Soylent Green, Dark Star, Moon and many other famous films. Accompanied by the Spacebugs - Henry Carpenter (musical director), Mickey Howard (guitar), and Archie Wolfman (drums) -, clad in white coveralls, with insect antennae and futuristic glasses, the three actors are singing their hearts out, sometimes in vain as the band can be overpowering. The songs are not very memorable but "Lady in Space" entails all the longing Captain Spartan feels for the unknown astronaut with the sexy Russian accent.

Sinead O'Callaghan's production is entertaining and includes some good twists. It benefits from a talented cast: Matthew Jacobs Morgan gives a highly energetic performance as Captain John Spartan, Candice Palladino is delightful as the space alien, moving in a predatory crouch, smiling threateningly, accompanied by the occasional hiss. Benjamin Victor has the most thankless role as the aggravating Lethal Space Bizzle. His appearance is too short to make much of an impact, yet he is very good as the voice of the computer.

The stage design by Lars Davidson entails a spacey floor with grid pattern, two walls in glittery white and a few gadgets, including a silvery truck that delivers Spartan's food among many other items. A monitor dating back to the 1980s with green fonts represents the computer - basic but sufficient.

An entertaining show.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 19th February 2017

Vault Festival

Running time: 80 minutes

Photographs provided by Chris Hislop.

Feb 18th

Richard III by Schaubühne Berlin at the Barbican Centre

By Carolin Kopplin


Lars Eidinger as Richard III

I myself find in myself no pity to myself.

After a successful and critically acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Festival last summer, Thomas Ostermeier brings his intriguing Schaubühne production to London, with Lars Eidinger in the title role.

Using a translation by Marius von Mayenburg, one of the most important contemporary dramatists in Germany, Shakespeare's verse is replaced by prose and the play has been cut down to a running time of two and a half compelling hours without an interval, which seems taxing but is doable as there is not one dull moment in the show.

Thomas Ostermeier's production begins with thunderous drumming by Thomas Witte and a cacophony of noises before we find ourselves at a swell party. The Yorks are celebrating their victory in frat party style, covering the stage with glitter and giving in to any possible vice imaginable. Only Richard finds himself excluded from the festivities. An outsider because of his disfigurement, he has been pushed to the sidelines for far too long. Richard decides to get what he deserves by using deceit and murder. The glitter remains on the stage, stomped into a mix of clay and blood as Richard murders his way to the throne.


Lars Eidinger (Richard III) and Jenny König (Lady Anne)

Commanding centre stage from the beginning, Lars Eidinger provides Shakespeare's antihero with sexual magnetism and a boyish charm, displaying a set of braces whenever he smiles. He is rapper and stand-up comedian, using a microphone to share his most intimate thoughts with his audience. Using his fake humility to deceive his opponents, Richard makes his lies appear like the truth. When wooing Lady Anne, Richard strips down, offering himself for the kill. Yet instead of piercing his heart, Lady Anne gives Richard a passionate kiss. Richard's seduction has worked and he despises Anne for being such an easy prey. Lars Eidinger's Richard is a monstrous but highly seductive performer. He fondles the microphone like a rock star, aware of his power over his audience.

One could say that one flaw of this production is that it centres too much on Lars Eidinger, thereby sidelining the other characters, which leaves him short of serious opponents. Margaret, played by Robert Beyer in drag, is comical. Her curse has been cut and she does not appear as a threat in any way. Jenny König, who gave a splendid performance in Ophelia's Zimmer at the Royal Court, is very good as Lady Anne but her character and Elizabeth (Eva Meckbach) are mere victims, doomed to passivity. Buckingham (Moritz Gottwald) is smeared with a brown paste by Richard, who then exclaims that Buckingham "looks like shit", getting many laughs from the audience. Yet in the end Richard destroys himself by taking his course of action, haunted by his victims and ending up alone in a rather surprising twist.

Thomas Ostermeier's production benefits greatly from Jan Pappelheim's stage design, depicting a bare stage, covered with clay, that seems to be in decay, rotting away with the mayhem caused by the protagonist, and Erich Schneider's atmospheric lighting design. Sébastien Dupouey provides video projections reflecting the unsettling events on the stage. 

An impressive and challenging production.

By Carolin Kopplin  

Until 18th February 2017

Barbican Centre

Running time: 2 hours 30 mins/no interval

Age guidance 14+ (contains nudity and violence)

Performed in German with English surtitles

Weekend Lab

All photographs provided by the Barbican Centre.

Feb 12th

Crime and Punishment at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

C & P8.jpg

 Sonia (Christina Baston), Raskolnikov (Christopher Tester), Porfiry (Stephen MacNeice)

Mankind won't improve itself and there is nothing I can do about it.

Arrows & Traps have done it again! After their compelling production of Anna Karenina, the company returns to the Jack Studio Theatre with yet another Russian classic - Fyodor Dostoevsky's first great novel Crime and Punishment, adapted by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus.

Raskolnikov, a former law student, murders an old pawnbroker and her sister to prove a theory. In the aftermath of his heinous crime, Raskolnikov battles with his conscience, going through a variety of emotions, from justification to guilt, from despair to empowerment. He is eventually forced to face his guilt by the contact with two characters — the deeply religious Sonia, whose life has been one long path of suffering, and the clear-sighted Porfiry, who is charged with investigating the murder. 

C & P7.jpg

 Raskolnikov (Christopher Tester)

The brilliant adaptation by Campbell and Columbus does not attempt to bring a detailed account of the novel to the stage. Instead it distills the essence of Dostoevsky's novel and focuses on the major themes. The play is a psychological thriller that takes us into the mind of a murderer. Everything revolves around Raskolnikov as he relives his memories and the thoughts that drove him to the crime.

Whilst being interrogated by Porfiry, Raskolnikov argues his theory that extraordinary people have an inner right to overstep certain boundaries and to dispose of people who hinder their grand plans, using Napoleon Bonaparte as an example. He refuses to be tricked by Porfiry into a confession, telling the inspector that he - as a superior being - can see through his indulgent act. However, Porfiry is convinced that Raskolnikov will confess in the end as a murderer is "like a moth circling a flame".

As Raskolnikov relives his memories, he reveals his feelings for Sonia who is willing to do anything to keep her family afloat, whilst being tormented by her ailing stepmother and left to her own device by her useless drunkard of a father. Still Sonia remains compassionate and pious whilst Raskolnikov embraces a nihilistic world view. Sonia realises Raskolnikov's isolation and loneliness when she tells him:" There is no one in the world as unhappy as you."

C& P6.jpg

Sonia (Christina Baston)

Ross McGregor's intense and imaginative production does justice to Dostoevsky's masterpiece. Christopher Tester is outstanding as the tormented Raskolnikov as he goes through myriad emotions, sometimes speaking directly to the audience. Christina Baston portrays Sonia as vulnerable and strong at the same time. Baston also plays all the other female characters in the play, including the murdered pawnbroker Alyona, her gentle sister Lizaveta, and Raskolnikov's long-suffering mother. Stephen MacNeice convinces as the soft-spoken inspector Porfiry as well as Sonia's drunken father Marmeladov. Both actors manage even rapid transitions between their various characters smoothly and with great skill.

Set in the time of the novel, the actors are wearing authentic period costumes, designed by Ross McGregor. The simple set by Luke Ridge consists of a few chairs, a table and a sofa. Quotes and keywords from the novel are written across two columns framing the wall that also includes a window, drawn with white chalk. Gareth Kearns' soundtrack adds to the unsettling atmosphere of the play.  

 An impressive adaptation of a classic that should not be missed.

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 25th February 2017

Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

Running time: 90 minutes, no interval

Photographs by: Davor Tovarlaza @ The Ocular Creative

Feb 12th

Beware of Pity by Complicite & Schaubühne Berlin at the Barbican

By Carolin Kopplin


Laurenz Laufenberg and Christoph Gawenda

Once more my pity had been stronger than my will.

The novel Beware of Pity (Ungeduld des Herzens) by Stefan Zweig was published in the eve of World War II and takes place in 1914, shortly before the beginning of World War I. Simon McBurney directs the Berliner Schaubühne ensemble in a compelling production that raises questions of consciousness and compassion as the Austro-Hungarian empire disintegrates.

The performance begins at night in a museum. Two uniforms are on display: the first is covered with blood as it was worn by Archduke Franz Ferdinand when he was assassinated in Sarajevo in June 1914. The other uniform is squeaky clean, the uniform of an officer of the Hapsburg cavalry. This uniform belongs to Anton Hofmiller, a young career officer who slides into a terrible situation shortly before the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and the beginning of the Great War, an ill-fated love story with a rich and disabled young woman. As a now middle-aged Hofmiller remembers his younger self, the production takes us to a different time.

Young cavalry officer Anton Hofmiller (Laurenz Laufenberg) is stationed in a small garrison town near the Hungarian border. He is invited to a soirée held by Baron Kekesfalva (Robert Beyer) at his castle and enjoys the delicious food, select wines and the delightful company. Before leaving, Hofmiller feels obliged to ask Edith (Marie Burchard), the daughter of his host, for a dance. His request is met with shock and disbelief as Edith is disabled. Deeply embarrassed by his faux pas, Hofmiller flees from the castle. To atone for his behaviour, Hofmiller sends flowers to Edith and apologises, Edith responds with an invitation for tea. Soon Hofmiller is a daily visitor at the castle. He enjoys the rich food and the warm welcome by Edith's family but remains ignorant of the fact that Edith is falling in love with him. When Hofmiller realises the extent of the girl's feelings for him, he dutifully asks for her hand in marriage. But Edith soon realises that Hofmiller just feels pity for her.



McBurney designs his production as an experiment - researching the timeless lack of compassion. The stage design by Anna Fleischle resembles a museum space with some of the actors sitting at desks, whilst others are placed in front of microphones or exhibits as they take us to the past so vividly described by Stefan Zweig. Hofmiller's story is told in German by seven actors, swapping narration and dialogue, who are not individually credited. Stylised movement by the ensemble reflects Edith's disability or suggests a cavalry drill, accompanied by Pete Malkin's thunderous sound design. Video projections of desolate battlefields and boats of refugess (design by Will Duke) place this story in a contemporary perspective.

Laurenz Laufenberg is excellent as the young Anton Hofmiller as he stumbles into an abyss, prompted by his older self and his comrades, torn between recklessness and a kind of foreboding. Marie Burchard plays Edith as a stubborn, unstable young woman who is helplessly moved around the stage on a mobile table. Robert Beyer convinces as Edith's father, acting like an aristocrat but despised as a Jewish upstart by the community and Hofmiller's comrades. Johannes Flaschberger is compassionate as Edith's doctor.

Stefan Zweig wrote that there were two kinds of pity: "One, the weak and sentimental kind, which is really no more than the heart's impatience to be rid as quickly as possible of the painful emotion aroused by the sight of another's unhappiness, that pity which is not compassion, but only an instinctive desire to fortify one's own soul against the sufferings of another; and the other, the only one at counts, the unsentimental but creative kind, which knows what it is about and is determined to hold out, in patience and forbearance, to the very limit of its strength and even beyond". We have to ask ourselves what kind of pity we are guilty of.

The production is part of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary.  

By Carolin Kopplin 

Until 12th February 2017

Barbican Centre

Running time: 2 hours with no interval

Age guidance 12+

Performed in German with English surtitles

The show is now sold out but is available online:

Live stream online: 12 Feb 3pm GMT

Available online until 26 Feb 11.59 GMT

Watch on these websites:

Photocredit: Gianmarco Bresadola


Feb 9th

Dubailand at the Finborough Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Adi Chugh.jpg

Adi Chugh as Amar

Can you see me? Can you see me standing here in the stars? Look at me I'm in the future. (...) I'm in the future and I'm building one of the highest buildings in the best city of the world.

First shown in a staged reading format as part of the Finborough Theatre's Vibrant Festival in 2015, Carmen Nasr's play discusses the contradictory nature of luxury founded on the exploitation of impoverished foreign workers.

Dubailand is the name of a retail and entertainment development that is nearing completion. The play focuses on three characters - Indian migrant worker Amar who helps building the dream, British PR hotshot Jamie who is promoting it, and British journalist Clara who intends to reveal the truth about this fantasy.

On the 88th floor of an unfinished skyscraper, Amar (Adi Chugh) is gazing at the stars, talking to his little daughter who he left behind in India. He came to Dubai for a better life - a city of lights and an ice cream parlour offering 200 different flavours - yet he finds himself living in a slum. Moving to a different camp would require bribes that he cannot afford. Meanwhile Jamie (Nicholas Banks) is living in luxury - that he cannot afford. A former activist, he now prefers living the good life. He has just impressed his icy boss Amanda (Belinda Stewart-Wilson) with the idea of a live-feed broadcasting directly from the building site so buyers can see how their property is being built and their investment is growing. So naturally Jamie is not pleased when his former girlfriend Clara (Mitzli Rose Neville) intends to further her journalistic career by putting his own job on the line. Clara, tired of writing for a shopping magazine, wants to research the working conditions of migrant workers in Dubai who are building Dubailand and reveal the brutal exploitation at the heart of the glittering dream world.

Nicholas Banks, Miztli Rose Neville.jpg

Nicholas Banks as Jamie and Mitzli Rose Neville as Clara

Amanda's PR team strives to present Dubailand as a modern development where Emiratis drink coffee in Starbucks whilst enjoying state-of-the art technology with their latest gadgets. Any hint of tradition or the past is to be banned from the video presentation. Of course the truth is rather different. Dubai is an absolute monarchy and a tax haven for the rich. There is no income tax but you also have to do without opposition parties, elections, or unions that could protect workers' rights. Migrant workers from India, the Philippines and other south Asian countries come to the UAE and are paid very low wages, often living under appalling conditions. Carmen Nasr effectively targets these issues in her play.

The German airport security officer is a true clichée but the play is well written and Nasr presents her arguments well, placing the emphasis more on the subject matter than the characters. Occasionally, Nasr's language changes into a form of free association, using the bare minimum to get her point across.

Georgie Staight's simple but intense production features a very good cast, most of all the three main characters played by Adi Chugh, Nicholas Banks, and Mitzli Rose Neville, but they get splendid support from Belinda Stewart-Wilson's cold-blooded Amanda who defeats Jamie's arguments by comparing his present hedonistic life to the crammed conditions in a London flat share. Reena Lalbihari impreseses as Jamie's colleague Deena who is living the good life just like her western colleagues, rejecting the "backwards" traditions of non-western countries. Leon Williams plays Jamie's colleague Tommie and Varun Sharma convinces in a variety of roles. Aanya Chadha is lovely as Amar's daughter Lali.

A relevant and topical new play that shows much promise.

By Carolin Kopplin 

Until 21st February 2017 

Finborough Theatre 

Running time: 90 minutes with no interval

Photographs by Tim Hall.

Feb 9th

The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Workshop Performance at The Ambassadors Theatre, London

By Elaine Pinkus


First, let me emphasise that the performance of Ben Frost/Richard Hough’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a work in progress and, as such, is still in its stage of evolvement.  As a reviewer, I was very excited to be part of the audience for this ‘workshop’, where attendees were invited to contact the production team with their views and ideas.

Frost and Hough have based this production loosely around Goethe’s short tale of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  Rather than focusing entirely on the traditional outline of the lazy young apprentice whose magic misfires in the mayhem of the famous broom scene, this tale uses that reference in one scene only.  The title role in this production is cast as feisty teenager Eva, (played delightfully by Naomi Petersen) who wishes to be taken seriously by her magician father Johan (Neil McDermott ) in her desire to be his apprentice despite being a ‘mere’ girl. Interwoven with this basic premise there are various sub plots including a love interest with young Erik (Blair Gibson), the confused relationship with long suffering Queen Larnia (Tracie Bennet) and a murderous plot devised by the jealous and cunning Prince Fabian (Jos Slovick).

At the very start Jan Ravens, as narrator, asks the audience to suspend reality and exercise their imaginations, for this is a minimalist performance with no scenery, no costumes and no lighting. Undoubtedly, should this production go ahead, it will demand all three on a large scale. Perhaps it was a big ask of the audience who were seeing only 7 chairs on an empty stage but all credit to the cast who gave it their all. They had rehearsed this first showing for three weeks only but had embraced their characters and were able to draw in the audience.

This Sorcerer’s Apprentice had a large musical score but lacked any real show stopping numbers where ensemble and/or harmonies could explode on stage. Perhaps this is an area that might be revisited. There were a few moments of humour but again, this might need addressing.  Nevertheless Seann Alderking (Musical Director) and Ed Scull presented the score on piano and percussion with finesse and are to be applauded. And not to omit Nigel Richards as Chancellor whose presence on stage injected some pantomime aspects into a show that could perhaps include an audience of both adults and younger visitors. At the moment, I am not quite sure who is the target audience.

This workshop was presented at London's Ambassadors Theatre on one night only. I await with interest the outcome of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Social media: @AmbTheatre #sorcerersmusical

Seabright Productions

Wednesday 8 February 7.30pm – The Ambassadors Theatre, West Street, London, WC2H 9ND - one night only

Feb 5th

Run the Beast Down at the Finborough Theatre

By Carolin Kopplin

Ben Aldridge. Image by Billy Rickards. (4).jpg

Ben Aldridge as Charlie

When I looked up, I saw him. Burnt orange, bright against the summer woods. He stood grandly on all fours, the King.

The Finborough Theatre, dedicated to new writing as well as rediscoveries of forgotten classics, presents the first play by writer, director and musician Titas Halder. Run the Beast Down is a fantasia about urban foxes, a surrealistic dream performed by Ben Aldridge, painted in a symphony of sound and lights. 

After being fired from his lucrative city job, Charlie finds his flat in a redeveloped council estate deserted - his girlfriend has left him. Suffering from insomnia after this double blow, Charlie begins to confuse reality and fantasy as he drifts into a world of dreamlike memories and hallucinations.

Charlie first introduces his neighbourhood - the elderly Mrs Winter who is worried about her cat Peter, named after her husband. The cat has disappeared and she fears that the foxes might have got him. But it might have been the feral kids on the estate whose aggression level is so high that they seem capable of anything. When he finds Peter savaged on his doorstep, Charlie starts to investigate and meets the Silver Man, Mrs Winter's brother. We also learn about Charlie's life as a banker - his mates and their local watering hole, a pub decorated with stuffed wildlife. An internal investigation ends Charlie's career.

As Charlie's sanity begins to deteriorate, he sees Mrs Winter's cat as a reincarnation of her husband, and even the stuffed animals in the pub gain special significance. He keeps contacting his ex-girlfriend assuming that she needs his help, which shows a somewhat obsessive behaviour. Eventually, the protagonist, who believes that he once met the King of the Foxes in the forest, starts identifying with the urban foxes, who have lost their natural shyness yet retained part of their feral nature as their disturbing shrieks echo through the night.

Under Hannah Price's creative direction, Ben Aldridge begins his performance at a leisurely pace, increasing the suspense and speed as the intense drama reaches its climax. He plays all the characters in his story including Mrs Winter and the King of Foxes. An online DJ, Chris Bartholomew, provides the musical soundscape, designed by ANoR (Andy & Fraser) and the inventive lighting design by Rob Mills and Robbie Butler add to the narrative.

A unique production that should not be missed.  

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 25th February 2017

Finborough Theatre

118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED

Box office: 020 7244 7439


Running time: 70 minutes with no interval.

Image by Billy Rickarts.

Jan 30th

The One Festival at The Space - Progamme E

By Carolin Kopplin


What reconciles me to my own death more than anything else is the image of a place: a place where your bones and mine are buried, thrown, uncovered, together. They are strewn there pell-mell. One of your ribs leans against my skull. A metacarpal of my left hand lies inside your pelvis. (Against my broken ribs your breast like a flower.) (John Berger)

The Space is an exciting venue on the Isle of Dogs featuring mainly new writing but also offering daring new productions of the classics. The One Festival, now in its fifth year, accommodates five programmes over three weeks, entailing a variety of stories that have  one thing in common - they are performed by only one actor.

Programme E includes one 50 minute play and three short plays with a running time of 15 minutes each. Searching Shadows, written and performed by Emily Orley, is structured like a scientific lecture. Emily Orley combines the biography of her grandfather, a radiologist from Bialystok who moved to a variety of European countries and the US before eventually emigrating to Britain, with the history of radiology and the reception of this new science.

Directed by Christopher Heighes, this multi-media show employs a slide projector to display x-ray photographs and photographs of Orley's grandfather and family to illustrate her narrative, an ancient record player and a tape recorder to provide various sound effects, particularly whenever Emily Orley is quoting from her grandfather's journal and letters.

This is an intriguing performance, providing a plethora of information about society's fascination with radiology 100 years ago as well as retelling Dr Orley's story. The show is a bit slow-paced at times and somewhat repetitive, the John Berger quote is used three times, but it remains a fascinating piece of work.

After the interval, the programme continued with three shorter plays. If the Shoe Fits, written and performed by Cheryl Walker and directed by Simone Watson is a delightful play about a young Londoner with a Jamaican background who travels to Jamaica for the first time to celebrate her great-grandfather's 100th birthday and ends up learning much about herself.   

Cornet Solo by Ben Francis and performed by Silas John Hawkins deals with the owner of an ice cream van. Business has been slow and this is one the last hot days of the year. Yet on this particular day the queue at Ianto's van is never ending. His customers are enjoying a special spectacle - a potential suicide who is standing at the ledge of a high building. Hawkins inhabits his role as the seasoned ice cream seller as the story reaches an unexpected climax.

The final play of the evening is Among the Missing, written and directed by Niamh de Valera, Artistic Director of the Blue Elephant Theatre, and performed by Jess Neale. A recent graduate is taking a "gap year" working as a barrista in a coffee shop when she meets the perfect student, obviously on the road to success. Immaculately styled and enjoying her exciting internship at a local gallery, Jess Neale's frequent customer is an object of envy for the hapless barrista. But one day her customer disappears and it turns out that her situation was quite different - "appearances can be deceptive". An intriguing play with a surprise ending that makes one think. 

These very different plays are well acted, well written and provide a thought-provoking experience and an entertaining evening.

By Carolin Kopplin

Running time: 2 hours including one interval

The run has now ended.

Jan 29th

A Lesson from Auschwitz

By Carolin Kopplin


Will you allow it to happen again?

I still remember seeing images of Rudolf Höss (not to be confused with Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess) and his staff celebrating the successful murder of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews - the so-called "Ungarn-Aktion". They were part of the "Höcker-Album", a collection of photographs collected by SS officer Karl-Friedrich Höcker, illustrating the lives and living conditions of the officers and administrators who ran the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp complex and an important document of the Holocaust. Höss was the longest-serving commandant of Auschwitz and is shown in many of Höcker's photos, often together with Josef Mengele. Höss was the most successful commandant of Auschwitz and the man who introduced Zyklon B to murder Europe's Jews more efficiently and in far greater numbers.

James Hyland is trying to shed light on the mentality of this mass murderer and the other perpetrators in his disturbing play that focusses on a secret meeting of Höss and his SS personnel in 1941. Purpose of the meeting was the introduction of Zyklon B, a more efficient method than mass shootings.

As the play begins, Abraham Könisberg (Michael Shon) a Jewish prisoner, who has been badly beaten, is standing on stage, wearing a blackboard with the words "Ich bin zurück" (I am back) around his neck. Höss treats him with condescension from the start and interrogates him personally about his escape, using him as an object to prove his inhuman theories whilst spreading the typical anti-semitic slander. The prisoner tries to keep his dignity despite the terrible abuse and humiliation he is subjected to.

Höss marches across the stage, clicking his heels before addressing his personnel, meaning to intimidate and demonstrate who is in charge. He also proves a master of rhetoric and manipulation. From the start, he makes them complicit: "There is no turning back now, gentlemen." Coaxing and threatening the soldiers in equal measure, he tries to turn them into effective killing tools who will obey all orders unquestioningly and abandon any human emotions such as mercy as this "weakness" helped the prisoner escape. Höss makes it quite clear that there is no room for weaklings.

James Hyland's portrayal of Höss is frightening - a sadist and a manipulative bully who seems capable of any atrocity. His rhetoric style reminds me of Roland Freisler, a Nazi judge who completely perverted his office. Michael Shon impresses as Abraham Könisberg, a man who tries to keep his dignity in this hell.

Directed, written and produced by James Hyland, this production should be seen by all - especially in the light of recent events.

By Carolin Kopplin

Running time: 60 minutes with no interval.

Recommended for ages 14+

Next performance:

FEB 25 @ 7.30pm


St Andrew's Vicarage, Lindsay St, Kettering NN16 8RG

01536 513 858

The play is dedicated to all victims of the Holocaust: those who were murdered and those who survived.

Proceeds will be donated to charity