Sunday, 8 October 2017

REVIEW: A Nazi Comparison at the Waterloo East Theatre

As someone who's been studying communication techniques for many years, I was initially impressed by the simplicity with which Craft Theatre conveys its political message. Based on Hanns Johst's play Schlageter and comparing contemporary political leaders to Hitler, the company highlights how propaganda relies on the divulgation of distorted information to manipulate public opinion. To corroborate this idea, we're also shown a video clip about Corbyn and the responsibilities of the press in his recent unsuccess during the general election. Another topic that emerges at the beginning of the play, is the Grenfell Tower disaster and the cloud of misinformation around the reasons of the fire and the number of victims. 

Getting caught in a pro-truth rally whilst heading to university, main character Clare (Louise Goodfield) meets Craig (Craig Edgely), a self-defined 'white hero' and a civil rights activist. Smitten with him and inspired by his socio-political views, Clare gives an academic presentation, where she announces her retirement from a course in Public Relations to embrace the fight for social justice. Focusing on the dynamics of American propaganda since the end of World War II, Clare makes a list of the country's political manoeuvres which have been supported by worldwide communication campaigns, despite breeching diplomatic agreements and disregarding basic human rights. 

The topic is interesting and thought-provoking, but the devised nature of the play means that her delivery wasn't guided by a director, whose intervention would have made the scene more palatable for the audience. Inserted about fifty-minutes into the play, the speech is too long and overloaded with facts and numbers, which easily become tiring and I found her continuous whining and dishevelled appearance quite draining.

From that point on, all the good work made in the first half to get the message across, is muddled with a self-indulgent combination of physical elements and disjointed scenes. These add little or nothing to a topical and well-researched framework, whose details are all available online. Text-heavy and taking too many tangents on historical and current issues, A Nazi Comparison would have gained my strongest favour if their ground-breaking format would have been combined with brevity. Despite the use of inspired creative methods, the play verges towards conspiracy. Instead of taking Clare's speech as its focal point, it finally drowns in an ocean of words and tears which become increasingly meaningless. 

Review by Marianna Meloni

Rating: ★★★
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