Thursday, December 8

Good – Harold Pinter Theatre

The Harold Pinter theatre brings us a revival from C.P Taylor exploring the idea of what makes a person ‘good’. Set in the early stages of World War 2, Halder (David Tennant) is picked up by the SS regarding his writing about Pro-Euthanasia after recently having his mother move in. His best friend Maurice (Elliot Levey) acts as a soundboard to his ramblings and stories as he endures the slow evil creeping upon his Jewish community. Meanwhile, Helen (Sharon Small) plays the part of wife at home although finding it more and more difficult to keep it all afloat.

This piece explores brilliantly the idea that evil can suffocate us without acknowledging it, that a person may continue to convince themselves they’re good although actively contributing to the disaster. Tennant’s character is flawed from the beginning in that his moral compass is questionable, we are flooded with text analysing his position as a father and husband although he never questions his position as a party member- perhaps that’s not something he wants to analyse about himself. When speaking to Maurice, as someone directly stood in the firing zone he sits politely, screaming behind the eyes at Halder’s power and lack of acknowledgment to the active role he takes towards his own best friend’s demise. We are taken through a village of people played mostly by Sharon Small allowing Halder to explain how he got to the place he’s at now, music whispers through the speakers enticing a commentary from Halder on the history and meaning of each song. Even with his love for music, Tennant has the ability to hide and pull back the emotional reactions one may rile up from their passions giving the performance a real kick as we watch a man completely detached from us and himself in order to cope, or perhaps out of choice that he simply doesn’t care enough about others to propel a change. Either way, it left room for the audience to question him and question ourselves on how we might act in that position, a position that although feels very far away in the circumstance of the play, we can definitely find meaning in our lives today- even if it is a bit of a stretch.

Photo: Johan Persson

The play being set in World War 2 will of course feel like an ever-growing distance from this generation, I did at times question the relevance of the piece today as it felt like a bit of a stretch to relate to our current situation. The message will arguably always be relevant however I simply question why this piece and why now? The play of course will generate a grand audience, possibly lesser from the youth which is a shame as it revealed incredibly impactful moments relating to those affected by this regime.

The set (Vicki Mortimer) encouraged a suffocating environment, closing our actors in a corner of grey concrete, minimal and haunting. Mixed brilliantly with the lighting (Zoe Spur) creating shadows and space for his continual flashbacks which only grow more consistent as he loses grip on the control he believes to hold.

I’m not rushing to see this again, but I am glad to have seen this story, the text was quick and at a pace that felt difficult to catch up to if drifted for a second which was often the case which is a shame as it runs only for 2 hours. I question whether the star casting has elevated the piece and whether an unknown casting would have gathered the same hype. Saying this, I thought this cast was utterly outstanding and cannot doubt the immense talent they possess in the life they gave these characters.

Playing until 24th December,

Reviewer: Alice Rose

Reviewed: 13th October 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★