Skip to main content

Into That Darkness

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

“What interests me is not what uniform a man has on,” says Nazi death camp commandant Franz Stangl at one point in Robert David Macdonald's piercing adaptation of Gitta Sereny's forensic journalistic dissection of Stangl. “It is what is inside the man.” The fact that his interrogator is Sereny herself, attempting to get to the root of how a lonely zither-playing boy can grow up to oversee one of the largest mass murders in history is a telling indictment, both of his own lack of self-awareness and his long buried desire to offload his previously unacknowledged guilt.

Behind plate glass in an austere grey prison office, Sereny peels back layer after layer of Stangl's psychological skin. Initially buttoned up in a tight-fitting suit, by the end of the play he's down to his shirt-sleeves. Where Cliff Burnett's Stangl appears wraith-like and haunted, he remains quietly cocksure as he wearily confronts his own crimes. In his presence, Blythe Duff as Gitta is steely as she listens to his matter of fact litanies of overseeing Treblinka's 'cargo' to the gas chamber while sporting a newly tailored white riding outfit.

With the pair flanked by Stangl's wife and other bystanders played by Molly Innes and Ali Craig, each scene of Gareth Nicholls' intense, slow-burning production is punctuated by an extended blackout and low rumbles of sound, as if the tape has run out, leaving gaps to ponder the magnitude of Stangl's actions. All of which makes for a deeply discomforting experience, made even more so by the reflections of the audience cast onto the glass by Stuart Jenkins' wilfully harsh lighting in a thrillingly mesmeric meditation on human cruelty.
 
The Herald, May 22nd 2015

ends




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…