Taken at Midnight – a debut play by Mark Hayhurst at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket
27th February, 2015
‘I knew right then I was going to be tested in some way and I knew I was going to fail.’
Usually I am resistant to phrases like: ‘following critical acclaim’ and ‘a sold-out season’. Such were the words following Jonathan Church’s world premiere production of ‘Taken at Midnight’ by Mark Hayhurst* after a sell-out season at Chichester Theatre. Reviews and some local positive feedback encouraged me to book.
Very simply, the source of the play was promising, referring to the little-known arrest and imprisonment of Hans Litten, a Jewish lawyer who had the audacity to summon Adolf Hitler as a witness at the trial of four militant Brownshirts (of the Sturm Abteilung or Storm Department) who stood accused of murder in the early days of Nazi Germany. The SA was a nasty brutish organisation, which Hitler later abandoned, murdering many of their principal commanders, though when he came to power in 1933 he still needed them. Litten humiliate the Hitler, only to be later persecuted and seized in a midnight raid after the Nazis sweep to power in 1933. The drama centres on Litten’s formidable mother’s campaign to get him released after he is taken into ‘protective custody’- all in the face of incredible personal risk. Spoiler alert: After five years of beatings and torture Litten hangs himself in Dachau in 1938.
Continue reading Taken at Midnight
Muscovado by Matilda Ibini at Theatre 503
March 1st, 2015
‘Did you know that negroes have smaller brains than animals’
To see Matilda Ibini’s new play,‘Muscovado’ on first day of spring at Theatre 503 was such a good choice. It is a bitter sweet interconnected story of life on the Fairbranch sugar plantation in Barbados at the start of the 19th Century. As Jane Austen did in ‘Mansfield Park’, the play serves to remind us of British involvement in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
With the slave-owners’ way of life under threat from abolitionists in the old country and the possibility of rebellion closer to home, various tensions abound throughout: that between slaves and owner, the unseen Captain, owner of the plantation, and everyone’s tormenter; the latter’s role as husband and his trapped wife, Miss Kitty (Clemmie Reynolds); and Parson Lucy (Adam Morris), is unsettlingly convincing as an abhorrent, self-righteous pantomime villain who exploits his clerical position for power and greed. Even though the characters slip at times into caricatures of the period, there is an emotional reality which remains credible throughout.
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‘Der Fliegende Holländer ’ or ‘The Flying Dutchman’ at the Royal Opera House, Convent Garden
Monday 9th February, 2015
‘My longing is for release:
O that it might come about through an angel like this!’
The time is the 17th century and the place is the Norwegian coast. ‘The Flying Dutchman’ tells the tale of the legendary, accursed phantom ship doomed to sail the oceans forever. The sole chance of salvation for the sea captain, the Dutchman, comes every seven years when the cruel gods allow him to go ashore to search for a woman who can be forever faithful to him, but any straying will condemn her to eternal damnation. His chance comes, however, when he meets Daland, ( Peter Rose), a sea captain; who is remarkably willing to offer his daughter Senta in exchange for the Dutchman’s riches.
The Dutchman is powerfully sung by the dark bass-baritone- brooding Bryn Terfel, though I have to admit I found the Dutchman’s moody complaints a bit wearisome. Continue reading Der Fliegende Holländer