Thursday, May 30

Fear and Misery of the Third Reich – Liverpool Theatre Festival

With no ticket left unsold, Fear and Misery of The Third Reich transports the audience to a time the history books say will never happen again.

Written by Bertolt Brecht in 1938, viewers witness events that took place in ordinary German households through a series of twenty-four interconnected playlets. This version is dedicated in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. Produced by Theatre Right Now and directed by Anthony Proctor, Fear and Misery of The Third Reich, the performance provides an intimate, moving evening. They have made use of the actors’ skillsets and focused on the storytelling of Brecht’s work.

The script is powerful.

With only four people in the cast – Liam Powell-Berry, Reginald Edwards, Megan Thorne, Mary Savage and Samantha Alton – a multitude of characters are quickly and skilfully created. In addition to the dialogue, this is done through accents, through body movements and through facial expressions. Nobody drops out of overall character during the show, so the audience is fully immersed in ‘being present’ throughout the playlets.

Using minimal props and no staging, Theatre Right Now’s production is intense and focused, creating a tapestry of moments that weave together overall to portray the human experience of existence during this time.

The nuances of daily life are captured. Hard-hitting, the growing suspicion between couples and friends surface as well as between parents and children. A nonchalant teen, who is also part of the Hitler Youth, pops out for chocolate but is late back after hearing his parents speak a little too openly about their opinions of the media and Nazi Germany. Why is he late? Where has he gone? Is the alarm with authority being raised, and if so, what’s the plan of action? Seemingly irrelevant moments carry weight; every decision, every thought, travels on tenterhooks.

Equally dramatic is a scene of mostly monologues whereby a wife prepares to leave her husband for Amsterdam, knowing that her presence and the persecution that herself and Jews are being subjected too is impacting her German husband. There is a lot of talking demonstrated between the lines of speech in this play.

The actors wear the same clothing throughout but there is no confusion between the characters and shorts. The plays are interconnected yet individual. The actors maintain a consistent energy and skilled characterisation throughout – there is an underlying sense of no breaking or escaping once the performance begins. The audience, armed with the knowledge of history, are both fly-on-the-wall witnesses as well as part of the action unfolding. This makes viewing this version of Fear and Misery of the Third Reich a riveting experience.

For future productions and performances, view Theatre Right Now’s website HERE.

Triggers: Strong Language, depictions of violence and oppression.

Reviewer: Ezzy LaBelle

Reviewed: 1st September 2022

North West End Rating: ★★★★