'Taken at Midnight' by Mark Hayhurst
Directed by: Richard Parish
Design by: David Hemsley-Brown
Lighting by: Alex Lyon
Sound by: Alex Lyon and David Perkins
Cast: Steve Alais, Alison Brooks, Graham Collier, Paul Halliwell, David Hemsley-Brown, Ben Howarth, Nick Lund and Derek Watts
For a direct link to the GALLERY of PHOTOGRAPHS of this production
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
As usual with Lighted Fools, when you enter the Theatre, the set shows signs of loving attention to detail, whetting the appetite and sparking that pre-theatre buzz that makes it so addictive. And as usual with Lighted Fools, the expectant theatre-addict was not disappointed. The set, designed by David Hemsley-Brown (of whom more anon) was divided left and right between what was obviously a bare-concrete prison cell, and a bureaucrat's office dominated by a nazi flag. As a reviewer of amateur theatrics one feels constrained always to 'be nice', to concentrate on the good stuff, even to the extent of fudging and blurring on occasion. Well, why don't I break that tradition and list what was not perfect about Lighted Fools' 'Taken at Midnight'. Let's see. Well, for one thing, the nazi flag was not an original. And, oh dear, I think one pair of spectacles may not have been from the '30s. The guard might, I suppose, have kicked the prisoner more vigorously. For the avoidance of doubt, let me make it plain that I was employing heavy irony there. In truth I sincerely think this show was a fine demonstration that you don't have to go to London and spend hundreds to see top-class drama. From the very first second, when the darkness was sliced by a razor of light as the cell door opened, I was entranced. Through that sliver of light, a hapless man was thrown by a brute of a guard (Ben Howarth, excellent physical presence). Only later did we see that the cell was already occupied by two others, who, to judge by their beards, had been there some time. These were David Hemsley-Brown playing the anarcho-communist poet Erich Muhsam, and Paul Halliwell as the nobel-laureate Carl Von Ossietsky, both in prison for being cheerful, peace-loving good guys. The newcomer was Hans Litten (Nick Lund, first-class), thrown in after them for making Hitler look foolish in a law court. Symbolically and literally placed between the cell and the office was Litten's mother, played with fiery-eyed charisma by Alison Brooks, at first in her own spotlight, and then in the nazi office, where she met Dr. Conrad (Graham Collier), an officer whose handsomely pedantic politeness belied his chilling uniform. These two began a relationship which gradually developed as she, at first contemptuous, later seeming to thaw, but resolute throughout, began to campaign for her son's release. They met several times, and one began to wonder 'will they, won't they', because he was so very charming, sweetly and naively explaining that her son was not in prison but in 'protective custody'. You felt sure that her heroic beauty would win him over. Here is the perfect place to avoid a plot-spoiler. The cast was rounded off by Derek Watts and Steve Alais, as Fritz Litten and Lord Allen, and between the eight of them they made a really excellent job of delivering the script, written on commission by Mark Hayhurst, no stranger to the subject, having written it for TV on at least two previous occasions. It was beautifully balanced and paced, intriguing, beguiling and heartbreaking. The high point of the evening belongs to Mr Hemsley-Brown, thoroughly believable as he approached his last breath taunting and goading his executioner. Or perhaps it goes to the technical crew who managed perfect synchronisation of sound and light in the torture scene. Or perhaps it goes to makeup, for transforming our hero from a suited and sanguine lawyer into a gaunt and spectral Dachau inmate. Or maybe to Mr. Lund who conveyed his unseen tortures so well through body language alone. All examples of theatre of the first order. I regret beginning to pick out 'high points' and would almost go back and erase what I said above, except that they truly deserved mention. There were many, many other points equally deserving, but it would be tedious to try and list them all. Heartfelt congratulations and thanks to Director Richard Parish and the whole crew for a wonderful evening.
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