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.