‘Whenever there are human beings, there is fraility’
Written when he was in exile in Denmark, Bertolt Brecht’s openly anti-Nazi play, ‘Fear and Misery of the Third Reich’ is set in 1930s Germany. Phil Wilmott’s clever production is chillingly relevant today. The backdrop serves both as a window and mirror to create the illusion of reflection, transparency and coercion – we are looking at lives through a distorting political prism.
Through a series of sharp vignettes, Brecht creates a picture of suspicion and anxiety experienced by ordinary people in National Socialist Germany of the 1930s, particularly Jewish citizens, as the power of Hitler grew. Wilmott exploits the episodic approach which is held together by an undercurrent of fear. For example, in Berlin in 1933, a storm trooper eggs on a worker to make jokes about the regime and shows him the trick of marking a suspect with a chalk cross on the back of his jacket, unawares. There are charged moments such as Tori Louis’s woman suddenly saying the wrong thing to a radio interviewer or realising what she has had done after accusing a neighbour that give an instant image of vulnerability.