A Nazi Comparison

Devised From Hanns Johst’s Schlageter and Contemporary Political Rhetoric by Craft Theatre

Craft Theatre

Waterloo East Theatre

From 03 October 2017 to 29 October 2017

Review by Keith Mckenna

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The title of the play A Nazi Comparison may grab your attention but is slightly misleading, since what we get is less about the similarities between the Western political climate of today and the Nazi regime and more about the disturbed political awakening of the character Clare (Louise Goodfield).

We first see her in a taxi trying to get to an LSE lecture about the media bias against Corbyn. The taxi is held up by a protest over Grenfell which she joins for a short time meeting the activist Craig (Craig Edgeley).

Later, reading a play by a Nazi playwright and some books on Western imperialism, she becomes increasingly agitated about what she sees as similarities between the ruthless cruelties of both systems.

Involvement with an activist group that is also deeply frustrated at the difficulties of political struggle begin to fuel arguments with her mother and friends whom she finds selfishly complacent. It also makes her growing relationship with Craig even more important.

The realist story holds our attention, but it is told with little subtlety and often makes Clare seem an emotional wreck crying repeatedly about a world she cannot change.

This could make the play a very bleak affair. However it is told with a brisk pacing and a lot of bright satirical moments which lighten the mood. Craft is a fun-loving theatre company who leap about and very often cartwheel into new scenes.

It doesn’t compensate for the show’s weaknesses. The satire is slight and little more than an interlude in the serious stuff. It includes a sequence in which the activists protesting against the RSC taking money from BP are chased Keystone Cops-style after they disrupt an RSC performance of Hamlet who for no obvious reason is chatting to a dildo.

The inserted LSE lecture, Clare’s official university presentation about Western imperialism at which she resigns from the university, and some provocative video clips of Trump and right-wing newscasters are all very informative but they can leave you a little cold.

Clare is the centre of our attention. Dressed in white to contrast with everyone else in black, she dominates the plot. We ought to sympathise with her and also feel critical about the things she has objected to about the world.

Unfortunately that doesn’t happen. The way the issues that bother her are presented make them seem remote, and audiences are more likely to find her tendency to be tearful irritating.

This is a dynamic, imaginative production with an important political point to make and a good story to tell but it needs work to make it convincing or truly interesting entertainment.