“Would you kill Adolf Hitler? Or do you think that murdering him would undermine your own sense of integrity?”
A rather confronting question for a Thursday night, I guess it was expected from a play titled Love, Lies And Hitler. Although the intense opening left me feeling rather guilty in initially wanting to impale Hitler, as the story unfolded I was further lowered into the world of the main character, Dr. Paul Langley (Paul Scott), whose own moral high ground is put to the test.
Langley, as intelligent as he is, believes he is somewhat insane given the fact he has visions and extended discussions with Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Doug Chapman), whose life and work he has studied and lectured on for years. Imaginary conversations aside, Langley lands himself in even deeper trouble when he falls for one of his adoring students, Hannah (Ylaria Rogers), who later reveals she has a secret that threatens to destroy them both.
Walking Langley through his inner demons, Bonhoeffer, a German pastor whose foiled attempts at assassinating Hitler led to his imprisonment and subsequent execution in 1945, endeavours to show the professor that sometimes it’s necessary to risk everything for a better future. The play cleverly juxtaposes Langley’s personal challenges with Bonhoeffer’s true-to-life historical political efforts and exposes the fact that instead of addressing ethically demanding problems, many of us are caught up in ‘first world problems’ and self-obsession.
Exploring themes of institutionalism, risk versus reward and rules versus forbidden love, the play takes the audience on a philosophical and ethical journey, raising historic themes of morality that continue to be relevant in society, particularly in regards to the church.
Written by Elizabeth Avery Scott, Love, Lies And Hitler draws the audience deep into the drama and the varying degrees of suffering the characters experience. Although both Scott and Rogers maintain a strong-felt stage presence, Chapman definitely steals the show, with his well-executed German accent and his depiction of the ever-present and at times very humorous Bonhoeffer.
Love, Lies And Hitler delivers an insight into an important historical figure in an entertaining and well-executed manner that leaves the audience members questioning both their personal integrity and the role they play in today’s society. To paraphrase a Bonhoeffer quote, sometimes our choice is not between good and bad or right and wrong, but between bad and bad and wrong and wrong.
Love, Lies And Hitleris showing at Old Fitzroy Theatre until Saturday May 3.