BEAUTIFUL, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THEATRE
NZ Fringe Festival 09|
Devised by Sophie Roberts and Willem Wassenaar
Directed by Willem Wassenaar
Performed by Sophie Roberts
at The Basement, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland
From 25 Aug 2009 to 5 Sep 2009
Reviewed by Candice Lewis, 27 Aug 2009
The lone figure of Traudl Junge (Sophie Roberts) is hunched in a plain chair, and the floor sparkles with a seaweed sea of brown tape. Piles of large, old style reels sit on the floor, and to her left is a clunky old recording device. She wears a flawless, well-cut black dress, bends down and presses play, sharing the quiet voice of her youth.
These recordings allow both aspects of Junge to be interwoven: the young woman who longed to be a ballerina; the mature one struggling with regret and sadness at being Adolf Hitler's personal secretary.
Robert's performance focuses all my attention. She is a young, beautiful innocent just wanting to have an adventure in Berlin, then an arrogant, worn down woman of the world haunted by a corpse-littered past. She is bright and blank, then rippling with pain and regret, her face conjuring up members of Hitler's inner circle with a mixture of love and horror.
I feel how impressed she is by the power, wealth and privileges of her surroundings, how kind her boss is to her, perhaps an indication of her longing for a tangible father figure. I am not repelled by her; her admissions loosen the face-tightening mask, and as it drops we find ourselves.
I do not mean that this somehow excuses Junge, but I do think it casts light on our motivations and fragile humanity. Devised by Willem Wassenaar and Sophie Roberts, it is unquestionably beautiful, thought-provoking theatre.
Wassenaar also directs, and obviously knows what he's doing. Roberts movements seesaw between grace and grief-stricken robot. In doing so we are always reminded of her missed opportunities, to be a dancer, or perhaps a heroine.
The cast and crew of this Almost A Bird Theatre Collective production have done an amazing job. The sound design (Thomas Press), lighting and sound operation (Sam Bunkall), and costume construction (Rebekah Coburn) are all flawless.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.
Laurie Atkinson (The Dominion Post);
Lynn Freeman (Capital Times);
Laurie Atkinson (2) (The Dominion Post);
Uther Dean (Salient);