"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. "
(Macbeth: Act V Scene V)
'Taken at Midnight' by Mark Hayhurst
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Taken at Midnight is set in Berlin during the 1930s when a brilliant lawyer, Hans Litten, called Hitler as a witness in the trial of a gang of SA men. On the night of the Reichstag fire, Hitler has Litten arrested as an enemy of human society.
As Litten disappears into the Nazi system, his mother, Irmgard, often at enormous personal risk, fights for the release of her son. This riveting drama explores her struggle, her son's resistance and the heroic battle of the weak against the powerful, truth against lies and mothers against murderers.
'There's something about the inspiring heroism of this tale and the way it's told that holds you spellbound.' (Telegraph).
'Sardines' Magazine REVIEW OF 'TAKEN AT MIDNIGHT' by NIGEL DAMS
The Mill Studio continues to offer a varied menu of productions. Last week 'Taken at Midnight' - Mark Hayhurst's affecting script about Hans Litten, a German lawyer who defended opponents of the Nazi regime during the turbulent early 30's - was presented by the Lighted Fools company. Director Richard Parish gave us a sharp, uncompromising production made all the more powerful by its restraint. Hayhurst's dialogue deals with moral conviction and torture and is so forceful it could seduce the unwary into exploiting its deepening shadows with added blood, gore and hysteria. That he and the cast avoided this to reveal resolve and conscience, held the audience I joined mesmerised. In 1931 Hans Litten had subpoenaed Adolf Hitler to appear as a witness in the trial of Nazi paramilitaries. Litten publicly diminished Hitler with intellect and courage. There was, however, a price to pay; two years later with Hitler firmly in power, Litten is arrested, disappearing into 'protective custody'. That might have been the end of this true account had his mother, Irmgard, not faced the Gestapo head-on relentlessly asking, 'Where is he?'; 'Why is he there?' A strong cast contributed to a darkening atmosphere with Hans played by Nick Lund and Irmgard by Alison Brooks. Lund initially suggested the agile mind of a combative barrister but progressively a man weakening from the privations of captivity. His final entrance, emotionally defiant but physically broken with his head shaven was astounding and for me virtually coup de theatre. As Irmgard, Brooks understood the strength gained from an economy of movement; unflinching, her performance had the deft colouring of experience. Her final scene pleading with Hans to abandon his principles was compelling. 'I had prepared you for a world that no longer exists!' Frightening but stunning. REVIEW OF 'TAKEN AT MIDNIGHT' by ROGER MOODY
In a world beset with current conflict and tyranny it is maybe not such a difficult fact to grasp that nothing changes. And so it was, nearly ninety years ago, with the rise of the Nazi Party and all that was to follow. But not before a 29 year-old German lawyer Hans Litten decided to subpoena none other than one Adolf Hitler to appear as a witness in the Berlin trial of some of his very own storm troopers. The accomplished young lawyer tied the self-styled Fuhrer in knots and in front of a crowded public gallery Hitler undoubtedly thought himself humiliated. The additional fact that Litten had earlier in his life converted to Judaism was not going to help with what followed - the revenge of a dictator by incarceration of Litten as a political prisoner, concentration camp, humiliation, torture and for Hans, the ultimate self sacrifice when there was no more hope in the devil that was Dachau. And throughout his living hell Litten's mother Irmgard never gave up hope, fighting for his dignity and release until it was too late. This, then, is the true story told by playwright Mark Hayhurst in 'Taken At Midnight' and whilst perhaps not the most entertaining of subjects for a spring evening at The Mill Studio in Guildford, the cleverly crafted production of this sobering story is a testimony to that most accomplished band of actors who make up Lighted Fools Theatre Company. Fools' founder and director of the play, Richard Parish, dislikes the 'A' word (think about it!) but it is difficult to believe his players are indeed 'non-professional'. There is not a performance to be faulted. So, in singling out company stalwart Alison Brooks - she played in the first ever Fools' production sixteen years ago - as Irmgard, Nick Lund as Hans and Graham Collier as the Nazi officer Dr Conrad, it would be unfair not to mention the tremendous support roles of Paul Halliwell and David Hemsley-Brown as two more political prisoners, Derek Watts as Litten Senior and the two debut performances of Steve Alais as the foppish and useless Lord Clifford Allen and young Ben Howarth in the play's remaining roles and whom some of us have seen cut his acting teeth in perhaps more light-hearted roles elsewhere! Honours, too, to the rest of the production crew......Hemsley-Brown, again, for the simple but so effective set design and construction and use of The Mill's intimate space.....Alex Lyon and David Perkins for the spot-on lighting and sound - all on perfect cue...Richard Parish's greatest supporter, Gill Parish for her wardrobe - and so much more....and the rest of the back-stage 'boys and girls' for whom there is never a bow - stage manager Sue Webb, publicity art work, Jane Hemsley-Brown and programme Michael Clements. A final thought. 'Taken at Midnight' was commissioned and first performed at Chichester, only four years ago and this production is the first non-professional production outside the West Sussex city and London. For Lighted Fools to be granted that privilege says it all!
COMMENTS FROM OUR AUDIENCE ON 'TAKEN AT MIDNIGHT'
Another excellent production. Great choice of play which sadly resonates with present times
We thought some of the scenes were very powerful
Alison Brooks' performance was particularly masterful. It was poignant, determined and sympathetic at just the right moments. She was totally convincing and believable
Loved the attention to detail
I really liked the beating scene with all three of them with their arms up - very powerful!
It is not the sort of play you can say you 'enjoy'. The subject is somewhat grim. But it is amazing how much of the content is so relevant today
A very serious play - very thoughtful with very good direction and wonderful acting
Really stunning production
A great cast - most impressive
Another superbly performed play by your talented company
As usual, an amazingly polished production with stunning performances
A somewhat challenging play - one to be appreciated but not, I'm afraid, enjoyed!
I found it gruelling (which is a positive) and moving - some very strong performances and a powerful narrative
Graham Collier's performance was excellent and very menacing with such lovely expressions and reactions
The acting was exceptional and we were particularly impressed with the way such a small space was used together with the lighting, music and sound effects to convey such a powerful message
Yet another polished and gripping production